View Full Version : A Small Technicality (BBW, WG, Romance)

05-31-2017, 08:05 AM
NB: I've learned all I know about law from television and Google. Judge me accordingly.

Writing this as I go so there might be some editing in the future.

A Small Technicality
by lurkymcduck


Benjamin Peters was not a religious man, but on this fine, cold Monday morning in November, he couldn't help but think that it had been divine interference that had made the door to his office come off in his hand.

It was a known consequence of working in a building near-four hundred years old. The walls leant at odd angles and at certain times of a year a puddle of unknown source would gather in the farthest corner, thankfully away from the electrics. The beams had had wood worm at some point in the last centuries, but they had been declared sound by a series of builders. The windows refused to open, and the carved wood panelling on every wall that wasn't covered by rarely-used law books was the only part that saw regular care, and he often came in after a weekend to a room that stank of polish.

So it wasn't a surprise that he had got up to leave on Friday, pulled open his office door (perhaps a little harder than usual, because it had started to scrape the flooring), and with a groan and the soft snap of its hinges, it had tilted forward, nearly onto him, and crushed his laptop to bits.

Looking back, there was very little to be happy about, but now, with Windows updating in front of him and the sun shining through diamond-paned glass behind, the hole where his door used to be was also a window, and he was very soon to be thankful for it.

It was just a sound, at first. A little hint of a person whose footsteps sounded different than those of the others on the third floor. There was that small, hollow and echoing tap of heels on the hardwood flooring, the slight swish of fabric, and then:

The slurp of a straw.

Ben looked up from his computer just in time to see her step past. She was a white, brown-haired woman he didn't recognise, wearing a skirt suit, a binder in one hand and an iced drink in the other. The straw was in her mouth, delicately poised between pursed lips. She was only there for a moment, framed perfectly in his empty doorway, then she was gone.

Ben tapped his pen against his desk. His computer announced it was installing yet more software he wasn't sure he needed, and it urged him to be patient. He took out his mobile and his diary. He had a hard time paying attention to the words.

At fifty percent, there were those footsteps yet again. A quick two steps and she was gone, as was a pastry that spent its last moments drawn between her lips.

At sixty percent, there was the rustle of a foil wrapper, and she walked past with the finger of a KitKat held like a joint in one hand and a cordless phone pressed to her chest with her other.

'Hello,' Ben found himself saying, sitting very still and a bit stiffly in his chair.

She looked up, started, smiled, then held up a chocolate-stained finger.

One moment, she mouthed.

She disappeared once more from his doorway.

She returned a minute later, and the wrapper was gone. She stood in the doorway as though she was afraid to step inside. She was fairly short and in her mid-twenties, pink-cheeked and friendly-featured. Her hair was drawn up in a smart bun, a few flattering curls framing a square face and wide, sharp jawline. Her lips were glossed pink, her eyes faintly outlined and narrowed with her smile. Below her lovely face was a short neck and a body that would be considered fairly average in the rest of the country but plump in London - a size twelve, maybe, or a small fourteen. Her waist was fastened by the shining black button of her jacket, and a pencil skirt showed faint pucker lines around the thighs.

'Good morning, sir,' the woman said. She had a light, high voice and a Northern accent. Yorkshire, he guessed. Maybe edging toward Geordie. 'Can I get you anything?'

'Sorry?' Ben said. His eyes were still fixed on the strain lines of her skirt. Was it simply wrinkles from sitting? It looked a tad too tight, her round hips tugging at the seams.

'Coffee?' the woman said. 'Tea?'

'Oh,' Ben replied. He forced his eyes upward. She was still smiling at him. 'No,' he said. He shook his head and leant back in his chair. He stretched his arms behind his head then dropped them, wary of showing off the fact that, apparently unlike every other thirty-something man in the city, he didn't lift. 'Sorry,' he said. 'I'm Ben.'

'Mister Peters,' she said with a nod. 'I know. It's a pleasure to meet you.'

'Ben, please,' Ben said. He was frowning again, his eyes naturally finding a resting spot around her hips. What was he doing? Also…who was she? 'I'm sorry,' he said, 'I think I missed a memo.'

'Oh,' she said, then with a little jump of surprise, exclaimed, 'Oh! Sorry, sir. I'm Tessa. The new junior clerk.'

The new clerk? He vaguely remembered something about that. The senior partners (or the Ancient Ones, as his colleague Maria called them) wanting to continue the lineage of the old-fashioned assistants to match the premises, and also because they still couldn't figure out how to work their mobiles nor the search bar on Google. The poor woman would be rushing all over the City with forgotten wigs stuffed in rucksacks and gowns flapping about in dry cleaning bags.

'Just started today,' Tessa said.

He found himself smiling. He also found himself suddenly quite sweaty-palmed with nerves. When was the last time he had felt like this? Even the last dates he had had (Tindr, OkCupid, that brief foray into a dating site he'd never admit to using to his friends) had him numbed with boredom rather than dry-mouthed with strange anticipation. And a clerk? What was wrong with him? Was he so starved of meaningful contact that even strain-lines excited him? Bloody London. He should've stayed in Swansea.

'Settling in well?' he asked her. His computer chimed. It was restarting. He wouldn't have an excuse not to work soon. He was certain he had evidence to examine, but he couldn't remember which client it was for.

'Yes, thank you,' she said. 'There'll be growing pains, I'm sure. But I'm very glad to be here.'

Growing pains?

'Let me know if I can help at all,' Ben told her. God, he sounded smarmy. Did he sound smarmy? Even his deaf, dim cat would be able to tell he was coming onto her.

'That's my line, sir,' she said.

'Ben,' he said. He dropped his weedy arms and pulled his jacket back into position, hoping it disguised the fact that he really wasn't the kind of man who knew his way around a set of weights.

'Sir,' she said, her smile widening, a bit cheeky. She patted her pocket. There was a little crackle of foil, and the tip of a brand new KitKat slipped above the lining. 'Thank you, sir,' she said.

The doorway emptied. Her footsteps faded. His chair wheel stuck itself in a rut in the floorboards.

Please wait, his computer asked him.

He stared at the blank space in front of him. At the shadow of pastry crumbs discreetly littering the floor.

He adjusted his trousers.

'Fuck,' he whispered.

05-31-2017, 08:08 AM

By Wednesday she had lost the jacket. She still wore the skirt, though, (or at least one that looked exactly like it) and a flowered blouse that floated around her waist and bust, tied at the neck in a pussybow.

'Morning, sir!' she called out to him as she rushed by his office, arms full of case notes for the Ancient Ones.

'Morning!' he called back.

A few moments later, she reappeared, arms empty, and…was it his imagination, or did that skirt look a mite tighter, and were there more lines around the hips?

Perhaps it was a new one. Perhaps he was only seeing what he wanted to see. Perhaps he was behaving inappropriately toward new staff.

'Coffee?' she asked him.

He nearly said no. Then he stopped himself.

'That would be lovely,' he said. God, he sounded like Margaret Thatcher. What was that voice? What was that accent?

'White?' she asked. 'Sugar?'

'No,' he said. 'No, black is fine.'

'Ah, I like sugar in mine,' she said. 'Back in a moment.'

She returned a few minutes later with his coffee and a stack of printed paper. She sauntered into his room. There was quite a bit of movement to her hips. A sort of sashay. It seemed an impractical and inefficient way to walk, but he wasn't about to complain. Not to mention that it was the first time he'd been within three feet of her. He admired the newly visible details: the slight softness of her cheeks and the suggestion of dimples, the smooth pale skin that looked like it had never met a bottle of instant tan, the way her blouse was stuffed into the snug waistband of her skirt.

'I have a new robbery case for you, I've rearranged your meeting with the sexual assault…' She slipped a file onto his desk, followed by the papers. '…and I thought this might help with your GBH.'

He flipped through the papers. It was case notes for a trial in Newcastle, for a victim with the same name as his client's alleged target. Charges had been dismissed.

'Thank you,' he said. He frowned at the papers. 'You're sure you're new?'

She slid his coffee across his desk.

'I have two-thirds of a law degree, sir,' she said.

'Only two-thirds?' he asked.

'Long story,' she said. Her smile faded. She tugged nervously at her tight waistband. Was it his imagination, or was there a bit of a bulge to her stomach? Chocolate bars settling? Breakfast digesting? That third croissant? 'Anything else?' she asked.

'No,' he said. He cleared his throat. 'Thank you, Tessa.'

05-31-2017, 08:11 AM

'No,' Maria said.


'Desperation is not a good look on you.'


'I'm not going out to dinner with a junior clerk,' she said. She shoved back from her desk, which was considerably messier than Ben's. She fancied herself a Beautiful Mind, and would often work through her cases like spider webs, scribbling on scrap paper that she strew across her desk. It made Ben crazy, but at least he no longer had to share an office with her.

'Don't be a snob,' he said. 'She's lovely, and you know it.'

'I'm not a snob. I have a girlfriend to go home to, and she's making patrikash for dinner tonight.'

Ben didn't know what patrikash was, and he frankly didn't give a shit. 'I can't ask her to go just with me.'

'Did you know,' Maria said, her severe black bob making cutting motions just below her pointed chin, 'that this is 2017, and men are allowed to ask women colleagues out for meals without it being a date?'

Ben didn't reply.

'Besides,' Maria said with a smile that bordered on nasty, 'she's getting fat.'

Ben's mouth went dry. 'Sorry?' he said.

'She's only been here a week,' she said, 'and every time I see her she's stuffing something in her mouth.'

Ben cocked a leg forward and stared at the black hairs on the back of his hand.

'You pervert,' Maria sighed. 'Fine,' she relented. 'But Christine is going with us.'

'The pupil?'

'You get your clerk, I get the pretty pupil.' She rose from her disk, and tugged her jacket from the back of her chair, buttoning it tight around her slim, fatless body.

'And I'm the pervert,' Ben said.

'Yup,' she said. 'And you're buying.'

They found Christine in the copy room chatting with Tessa, and Ben praised his luck at having both of them cornered at once. Less weird, more casual. Less like he wanted to see Tessa without clothes on.

'We're going to dinner,' Maria said before Ben could. 'Want to join us?'

'Yes,' Christine said, blue eyes wide, a half-starved expression alighting on her face. 'Please. Cheap and cheerful?'

'Ben's buying,' Maria said.

Tessa tugged a jammed piece of paper from the feed tray. Maria looked at Ben, her head cocked sideways.

'Erm,' Ben said.

Maria sighed. 'What about you?' she asked Tessa.

Tessa ignored them, then looked up when no one answered.

'Me?' she said.

Maria didn't wear her invitation on her face, but instead stood with crossed arms, fingers clawing at her jacket with impatience. Ben stood there terrified that he'd have to sit through a dinner of Maria flirting with a twenty-two-year-old who would be too afraid to talk to him while she ate her meagre fill and ordered extra for leftovers.

'Yes,' Christine volunteered. 'Come with us, Tessa.'

'Oh, I can't,' Tessa said. 'I should get home-'

'It will be fun,' Ben volunteered with a gravelly voice. 'Give us an opportunity to get to know you a bit more.'

'Fun,' Maria agreed.

Tessa fumbled at her jacket pocket, at the impression of a mobile phone.

'Okay,' she finally said. 'But I can't stay for long.'

'Great,' Maria deadpanned.

'Great,' Ben breathed, and Tessa looked at him sideways, fingers placed perfectly at the pull lines on her hips.

'Great,' Tessa said. She smiled. 'I'm starved.'

05-31-2017, 08:19 AM

At least it was cheap and cheerful, an American-style pub-diner that was known for its large portions and un-London-like prices. And at least Tessa slid in next to Ben, because Maria had made sure to claim the seat next to Christine ('I have a girlfriend' his arse). Christine ordered plaice, Maria the salad, Ben the burger. Tessa took her time with the menu, and the waitress nearly walked off without her order before she hailed her back.

'The Barn Burger, please,' she said. 'Extra chips. And a side of onion rings. And what's a Coke Float?'

The waitress explained, Tessa said that sounded marvellous, and then asked for mozzarella sticks to go with it. Finally, the waitress took her menu, and all three of her companions stared at her in mild shock.

'Didn't get lunch,' Tessa said without the slightest hint of embarrassment. 'Now, can some of you please talk so I don't feel so intimidated?'

Maria laughed, oddly, like she was surprised that the clerk had feelings.

'Don't worry,' Ben said with a sip of his wine. 'We're all idiots outside chambers, really.'

'Not me,' Christine said, still wide-eyed, clearly even more uncomfortable than Tessa, especially since Maria was sitting rather quite close to her. 'I am never an idiot.'

'They've already signed off your forms. I've seen them,' Maria said. 'You can relax, you know.'

Christine took a sip of her wine. 'Two months. Give me two months.'

A small smile stretched across the far half of Maria's face.

Their food came quickly, and the waiter handed over Ben's burger with a grin and a, 'Lucky man,' with a sideways glance at the two women across from him, apparently paying no heed to the fact that Tessa was pushing her fourth onion ring into her mouth.

There was barely room for all four of them. Tessa's onion rings competed for space with Maria's obscenely large salad, and Christine's plaice was shoved into the vinegar bottle. Her extra chips overlapped into Ben's.

'Oops,' Tessa said, fishing out her mobile. 'Forgot.'

'You Insta?' Christine asked.

'Uh huh,' Tessa replied. She positioned her mobile far above the table in order to fully capture the array of her meal, then swiped hurriedly through an app that did not look like Instagram.

Interesting, Ben thought.

'Skol,' Maria said, clinking her glass against Christine's, then against Tessa's Coke Float, which slopped ice cream into her wine.

Ben had to remind himself to eat. He did his best to ignore the one-sided flirting across the table and instead made polite conversation with Tessa, who was doing her best to respond and ask questions back between bites of her sizeable meal.

'Durham,' she said, finishing off the last onion ring and moving on to the remnants of her hand-cut chips. 'I took two gap years to take care of my mum. Cancer…she went into remission so I went into uni. Then summer after second year it came back.' Her hand hesitated over the last chip, then doubled back to the remaining third of her burger.

'I'm sorry,' Ben said, hardly able to get the words out. He was in awe of her. The meal had literally been larger than the cushions they were sitting on, and she was only a bit of a burger and a few chips away from finishing it. Not to mention down to the dregs of her second Coke Float.

Tessa shrugged shallowly and took a long sip of her drink. '"For every thing there is a season", et cetera.' Her accent was growing stronger the more she ate, like she was full up with alcohol and not food. She was growing less inhibited as her stomach grew rounder, fighting for space with her skirt. 'Your family's in London?' she asked, recalling his attention to her brain rather than her body.

'Oh, erm, Wales,' Ben admitted. 'When my granddad came from Nigeria, he saw Swansea and for some reason thought, "Ah, just like home."'

She grinned and slipped a chip into her mouth.

'God, this is good,' she said. She huffed a bit and dropped a hand to her skirt, trying and failing (it appeared) to slip her index finger between her stomach and waistband. 'May I have the brown sauce, please?' she asked.

Ben breathed out carefully and passed the brown sauce.

'I need to go,' Christine chimed in, startling Ben, who had forgotten she was there. 'I have a Deliveroo shift ten to two.'

'Yes,' said Maria, staring over her unfinished salad to the wreckage of Tessa's plate. 'I should go, too.'

Tessa swallowed. 'See you Monday,' she said, beaming at them both. Maria's reply was stone-faced. Christine bent to kiss her on the cheek. 'Night,' she said, and she and Maria left them, finally, on their own.

The booth squeaked beneath Ben as he shifted uncomfortably against the wall. Tessa still didn't notice. She was still tackling the last bites of her burger, focused on nothing but conveying the maximum about of filling to her mouth.

Oh God, Ben thought.

'Oh God,' Tessa said, wiping her hands on a serviette. She untucked her blouse from her skirt and let it float (though not as loosely as it had earlier) around her waist. Then her hands moved downward, and it was with a little sigh that Ben realised that she unfastened the button of her skirt.

Another strange sound: she unzipped it, too.

Oh God, Ben thought.

'Oh shit,' Tessa said. She looked at her watch, and it was only then that Ben noticed that small technicality, the hitch to his hopes: that glint of a small diamond on the ring finger of her left hand. 'I need to go,' she said. 'Guy's going to be wondering where I am.'

'Your fiancé,' Ben said. Of-fucking-course.

'So sorry to eat and run,' she said, 'I didn't realise I'd be so long. He's going to kill me.' She huffed as she slid out of the booth, then stretched, arching her back, her blouse riding high to reveal a triangle between the open flaps of her zip, the brief stretch of black knickers, and above it, the swell of her pale stomach cautiously adorned by - was he imagining it? - two brief, pink stretchmarks below the navel.

Oh God.

'Thanks so much for dinner,' his chubby, engaged colleague said. 'I'll leave the tip.'

'No,' Ben said too forcefully. 'No, I got it.'

'Next time,' she said.

'Sure,' he replied. He felt light-headed, and also furious. She was looking at him with narrowed eyes, confused.

Ben put on a smile. 'See you on Monday,' he said.

She put on a smile to match, though he imagined hers was just as unsure as his was. 'See you. And thanks again.'

A minute later, the same waiter came by to collect their plates.

'Could I have the bill please?' Ben asked.

The waiter eyed up the plates and the empty space where Maria and Christine had been.

'Poor bastard,' he said.

'Tell me about it,' Ben replied.

Benny Mon
05-31-2017, 09:14 PM
Amazing stuff - wonderful characters and intriguing hints. Excited to see more!

06-01-2017, 02:42 PM
Amazing stuff - wonderful characters and intriguing hints. Excited to see more!

Thank you!

06-01-2017, 02:49 PM
I've enjoyed it so far, and am looking forward to more :)

06-01-2017, 03:08 PM

By Monday, he was fine with the turn of events. Truly. He didn't need a girlfriend. His cat was the only real companionship he needed; he wasn't home enough to entertain anything or anyone else. He could always rely on his hand to relieve him, and he wouldn't have to pay for its meals. And as for Tessa, he could always just look.

Except that his office had a door again.

'Damn,' he said when he returned after the weekend, fumbling for his key.

He left it open, but it swung closed, even when he tried to jam it against the wall. It had been cut too high to stay open. A stack of books would do the trick, but it would also look desperate; not to mention the heating was broken and the door was the only thing that kept his office from boiling him alive. Grumpily, he set about his work, knowing he shouldn't feel entitled to watch Tessa as she went about her day, but agitated with having been deprived of the opportunity.

At lunchtime, there was a knock at his door: Tessa's forceful rap.

It creaked open. He looked from his computer, his welcome stuck in his throat.

She was wearing a sleeveless, white, form-fitting dress that hugged every inch of her from shoulder to knee, and it looked very much like it hugged more inches than it was intended to. The slight bulge of her stomach he thought he imagined in her floaty blouse and snug skirt was not his imagination, but fact, and her dress clung shamelessly to its roundness, and undoubtedly pulled even tighter than her grey skirt across her hips and thick thighs. Above it, plump breasts sat proudly, a hint of cleavage peeking above the struggling neckline. Soft arms (she didn't lift either, apparently) had a blush of red across the uppers that matched the pink of her cheeks.

He was staring. He knew that. How could he stop? She had a fiancé. Did she know what this was doing to him?

Only a week and it was obvious. Maria was right. Tessa was getting fat. She was also clever. She had to know.

She was doing this on purpose.

'Sir?' she said.

'Hi,' Ben said.

'I asked if you wanted me to get you lunch.'

'Oh,' Ben said. 'I'm not hungry.'

'Are you sure?'

'Did you want something?' he asked.

'I brought my lunch, sir.'

'Oh,' he said.

What else could he say? How could he keep her here longer?

'If you're sure,' she said, 'I'll be off, then.'

No. 'Enjoy your lunch,' Ben said. He grabbed for something, anything: 'I was just going to suggest that baguette place across the street. The Monster Meatball in particular. It's huge, as I suppose the name might suggest.'

Tessa threw him a grin. There was no, 'I already have a sandwich,' or 'I'm stuck with my salad.' 'Hm,' she said instead. 'I think I might check that out.'

06-01-2017, 03:11 PM

Three weeks and several Monster Meatballs later, Tessa knocked and let herself into his office without waiting for his reply. Also three weeks later, she was wearing that same dress.

'Coffee, black,' she said, sliding his mug into its usual place. 'Contract from Ellman's, and notes for tomorrow morning.'

'Thank you, Tess,' Ben wished her warmly. He looked determinedly at the papers for a moment before letting himself glance up through his eyelashes. The dress. That dress. God, she looked fantastic. The sort of fantastic that would have Maria muttering to herself, and Christine pulling Tessa to the side to have a concerned chat about her health. The dress that made Ben forget she had a fiancé.

She had gained weight.

That was undeniable. He thought he'd imagined it in the first week, but now that she had reached her first month anniversary, it was plain fact. She was short - no taller than five-two or five-three - and it wouldn't have to have been much to show. But it was more than that.

Everything strained. The seams that wiggled each side of her hips like curly brackets, whiskers curving toward her crotch. The rounded belly that was now a presence rather than a hint, smashed against her so the outline was clearly visible through the fabric. The breasts that jockeyed for room in a cramped neckline, and the shoulder straps that were biting into her underarms and her soft, pale shoulders. Her arms were softer, spreading flat as she held her hands at her side. Her face, too, seemed that hint wider. The dimples deeper as she smiled.

There was no shame in her stance. She stood there plain-open, smiling, waiting for him to dismiss her. Plump in her too-tight dress.

'Are you going up north for Christmas?' Ben asked her mildly, signing off on an invoice and handing it back to her. But his voice, too, sounded strained.

'No, staying here,' Tessa answered. 'Guy has a work do. Some fancy buffet. And there's no one up there for me anymore, really.' She pushed on before he could express any sympathy. 'What about you?'

'Family,' he said. 'Back to Wales. Lots of nieces and nephews to entertain.'
'You must be a brilliant uncle,' Tessa said, her dimples deepening, her dark curls catching and floating in the draught from the window. She clutched her arms, pressing her breasts toward her neckline - an inch of deep cleavage appeared. How much was it? he wondered. How much since she started? Ten pounds? Fifteen? It had been rapid, and rather a lot; it would have to be, for how much she was putting away.

But still he didn't have his answer: why was she doing it in the first place? Just for the taste of food? Or did she like the way it felt on her, the soft jiggle of her belly and arms, the brush of her thickening thighs, the tightness of her clothes? Did she like the whispers? Did she get off on the stares?

Or did she just get off on the way he was looking at her?

Don't flatter yourself, Ben thought. Fiancé, remember?

'I make an excellent pony,' Ben told her. 'I spoil them rotten and in return, I get to come home with the flu every new year's.'

'The zombie outbreak will start at a primary school,' Tessa agreed. 'You look healthy enough,' she told him. 'I'm sure you'll be fine.'

'You say that now,' Ben said, leaning back in his chair, perilously balancing on two wheels in a non-entirely-unsuccessful effort to try to look cool. 'You'll be the one bringing paperwork to my apartment. Be prepared.'

'Ooh, I'd love to see your flat,' Tessa said. 'You must have some amazing artwork.' She eyed a copy of a Monet in an antique frame hanging behind him. 'I'll have to try to steal something off of you when I'm there.'

'I think you're in the wrong chambers,' Ben told her. 'This is criminal law. Corporate is the next building over.'

She laughed. His face felt warm. Then he realised that there was a real prospect of Tessa coming to his flat. Tessa, in his flat. Plump Tessa, even plumper for the Christmas fare, wrapped up in a snug jumper, only a few steps from his sofa. And odds are that if it came to it, he wouldn't even be well enough to appreciate his chance.

Fiancé, he remembered.

'I'm sure it won't come to that,' she said, taking a step back toward the door. There was movement. More than one step allowed. And a slight groan of the floorboards that he hadn't heard before.

'I'll have to have you over anyway,' he said to her. His heart beat hard in his ears. His tongue was dry. 'It's only right that you can see the life of luxury that the criminal bar allows. And then you can meet the man in my life.'

She glanced at him sideways.

'My cat,' Ben explained.

She laughed. 'I like cats,' she said. 'Furry bastards.' Then her smile vanished. Ben's wheels once more scraped the floor.

'I'm going to lunch,' she said. 'Need to call Guy before he turns up to ask why I've gone quiet. Anything I can get for you?'

'No,' Ben said.

'OK,' Tessa replied.

And then she left him, and a deflated Ben couldn't even take the opportunity to appreciate her retreating form.

06-01-2017, 03:12 PM

Mid-December brought endless rain. It also brought new gossip to Everton and Sligh, and it wasn't the first time that Ben walked into the kitchenette to find Maria and Christine huddled together in spirited and secretive conversation, obviously talking about someone else.

'Hi,' Maria said, enlightening him immediately: 'we were just talking about Tessa.'

'Observations,' Christine said. She'd grown bolder in the past two months, less scared now that she was reaching the end of her six. 'Not gossip.'

'Apparently,' Maria added, 'Christine ran into them on her delivery round last night.'

'They ordered pizza from the Italian place,' Christine said.

'They ordered three pizzas from the Italian place,' Maria said.

Ben rinsed his mug in the sink, keeping calm with forced disinterest, but he could feel his ears going hot.

'Must've been a good party,' Ben said.

'That's the thing,' Christine said. 'There wasn't a party. It was just Tessa and her boyfriend.'

His ears were hotter. Red was spreading across his cheeks. 'Fiancé,' Ben said.

'He answered the door, and she was standing behind him in her dressing gown. She didn't say anything. She didn't even seem to recognise me. He was a nice-looking guy, but not exactly friendly. Didn't tip, either.'

'Three pizzas,' Maria repeated.

'Must've been a deal on,' Ben said, still rinsing his mug, much more than necessary.

'There wasn’t,' Christine said.

'Explains a bit,' Maria said.

'Explains a lot,' Christine agreed under her breath.

'Morning!' a bright voice said, and Tessa walked in with two handfuls of empty cups. Maria and Christine both went po-faced, and Ben yanked the tea towel so hard from the ring that it nearly snapped.

'Sorry,' Tessa said, 'can I just get to the sink?'

It took Ben a full five seconds to realise she was talking to him. 'Sorry,' he said, moving aside and frowning quite hard at his companions, who were both staring arch-browed at Tessa's backside.

Which, of course, gave Ben reason to stare at it, too: at the curve of an arse that seemed to grow wider and more prominent every day, taking up more than its fair share of the kitchen. At the seams that would have given little room for her to sit or breathe or bend. At the plump little handfuls of flesh that spilled over the sides of her waistband, pressing the fabric of what had once been a loose floral blouse.

Maria caught his eye, grinned, and held up her fingers. Three pizzas, she mouthed.

And Ben went back to staring, very keenly assessing the location of each and every one.

06-01-2017, 03:13 PM

The week before Christmas.

'Chinese,' Christine told them. 'Then Thursday night it was Greek. I'm kind of jealous, really.'

'Don't be,' Maria told her sagely. 'You'd blow up, too.'

'I don't gain weight,' Christine said, as if they couldn't already tell.

'Let's not talk about her,' Ben said.

'You don't have to be here,' Maria reminded him.

'I was just putting the donuts out.'

'Hm,' Maria said.

'Oh God,' Christine said. 'Are those jam-filled?'

06-02-2017, 07:01 AM
Excellent story, looking forward to more installments

06-02-2017, 08:04 AM
He needed new client chairs.

He didn't realise how narrow the arms were until Tessa lowered herself into the wooden seat. She was wearing that dress again. It was January (his Christmas had been illness-free, though the sniffles were starting to go around chambers) and Tessa wore her indulgence like a second skin and a not-insignificant layer of extra fat.

Her belly sat in her lap. There was no denying it. Even pressed in her dress (which she now wore with leggings, in an effort to keep it decent, since it had mysteriously grown so short), which might have once sucked her in, but only seemed to make her look fatter. The band of them showed thickly through the stretched-tight fabric of the white dress, though not thickly enough to disguise the outline of her navel. There was a small stain on the straining neckline that she'd tried and failed to wipe off - it looked like raspberry jam from the donuts in the kitchen. Ben's donuts.

Larger breasts bubbled from an obviously too-tight bra. Her hips and sides pressed snugly into the arms of the antique chairs. Thirty pounds now, at least. Had to be. Firmly in chubby territory, if not over the line into fat.

He could hardly stand it.

She bent to retrieve her iPad from her bag. Was it just his imagination, or did he hear the snap of stitches?

'Oof,' she breathed as she slumped back in her chair. 'I need new clothes.'

Ben's hand froze on his mobile. 'Oh?' he said.

'Don't pretend you haven't noticed I'm getting fat. I know everyone talks about me.'

'I-' Ben began, then stopped, at a complete loss for what to say next.

Tessa grinned. A double chin briefly materialised. That was new, too.

'Don't worry,' she said. 'It's funny, really.'

'You're…okay…with it?' It was so difficult to get those words out. So difficult to get anything out, actually, that wasn't a string of unintelligible syllables, especially now that her hand was resting on the round bulge of her belly. The ring was noticeably tighter on her finger, twin circles of fat surrounding it on each side.

'Sure,' she said. 'I'm not an idiot. Eat like I do and you're bound to pack it on. Unless you're Christine.' She abruptly changed the subject. 'Did you want to schedule your meetings with the new assault? She's not good at talking. I think you'll need to get her social worker in, too.'

'Sure,' he said, hardly paying attention. She was good at her job; she wouldn't still be here if she wasn't. She was personable and friendly and was forging relationships with solicitors that Ben hadn't even heard of, especially the Northern ones. The increased workload and the range of clients, Ben was sure, was the only thing keeping the Ancient Ones (who favoured their women slim, blond, and gold-digging) from telling her to shift the weight if she wanted to remain the friendly face of chambers. Her work ethic and cleverness just narrowly made up for the fact that he always seemed to get less work done rather than more when she was around.

'Okay,' she said. 'I'll contact the council. And your murder trial has been rescheduled for a week Monday.'

'Any word from the solicitor on a plea bargain?' Ben asked, surprised that his words came out in the right order.

'Still says he's innocent, apparently.'

'Damn,' Ben said.

'Maybe he is.'

'Evidence doesn't look like it.' He ran his fingers through his short, coarse curls. Across his desk, the other chair creaked as Tessa shifted her weight, one hand resting on her lap, the other balancing her iPad on the soft crest of her breasts.

'Hey,' Ben said. 'I could use a second pair of eyes. Would you mind taking a look at the photos for me, see if you spot anything I didn't?'

It she was anyone else - even Christine - he would have hesitated. Wondered if she was ready for that. But Tessa didn't hesitate, and didn't appear in the least bit put off.

Instead, she rubbed her stomach like an expectant mother, then tucked her fingers between the two distinct rolls at her side.

'Working lunch?' she suggested.

'I'll order in. Pizza?'

'God, yes,' Tessa said.

Ben picked up his mobile. 'Favourite?'

'Everything,' Tessa said. Her hand slid across the bulge of her belly, toward the deepening impression of her navel. 'I like everything.'

06-02-2017, 08:08 AM
Finally, Ben got ill.

It was only a matter of time, but it couldn't have come at a worse one. He had to be in court on Monday, and he hadn't quite sorted what he was actually going to say to make his creepy murderer look less guilty than he definitely was. And the snot wasn't helping.

It was his fault for braving his brother's house the previous weekend. It had been his nephew's birthday, and he had kissed the baby, played on the floor with his niece, held little hands on the way to the play park, and shared cake with a sniffling four-year-old. He remembered what Tessa had said about a zombie outbreak and wanted to kick himself for being the idiot who stood motionless in the face of the virulent hoard.

'I'm coming over,' Tessa said down the end of the line when he rang in sick Thursday morning. 'What else do you need me to bring?'

Ben was anchored to his sofa, his head throbbing and his muscles weak. Any other voice would have grated on him, but her accent was a balm.

'They're going to accuse you of favouritism,' Ben mumbled, trying to joke, maybe trying to flirt, and not doing a good job of it.

'They wouldn't be wrong,' Tessa said, and it took Ben's fumbling brain a moment to work out that that was a compliment. 'Besides, I need to get away from Maria.' Her voice dropped to a whisper. 'She's been a bit of a bitch since the new pupil got here.'

'She misses Christine,' Ben said. 'And he's not her type. When can you come over?'

'I can get away at lunch time. I'll bring you soup.'

'What would I do without you?'

'Probably die,' Tessa said.

Ben smiled in spite of his sore head. 'Looking forward to seeing you.'

There was quiet on the other end of the line. He almost thought she'd hung up on him. Then, still quietly, carefully, she replied:

'Me, too.'

Then the line went dead.

06-02-2017, 08:11 AM
As promised, Tessa showed up at lunchtime with an armful of leather folios, his laptop, and a carrier bag stuffed full of something that would probably smell wonderful if anything could get through his nostrils. She dumped them on his kitchen table, made no remark about the dull, cramped utilitarianism of his one-bedroom flat, and stood in his sitting room, in no hurry to move.

She was wearing a new outfit. She stopped fitting into anything else a few weeks ago, and even this was getting tight.

Because she was fat.

There was no beating about the bush. Her thighs were her widest part, stretching the limits of black slacks that would have been slimming on a taller, thinner person, but which had a shine that showed off every wrinkle, every bulge, every crease. Her blouse was too short and rode up to the waistband of her trousers, showing the pinched silver button and the soft swell of belly that half-obscured it. Her waist was barely a waist, but twin lines that sloped from swollen breasts to hips that her forearms rested on when she held her arms at her side. Her face was rounder, her dimples deeper, her neck now thickening instead of flowing into her shoulders.

Ben inhaled a glob of snot. God, she was gorgeous. Was she even ever slim? He could hardly remember.

'Where's your cat?' she asked.

'Huh?' he said. 'Oh. Asleep on the bed, I think.'

'Ah. We'll meet later, then.'

She set to work laying out his case notes on the little kitchen table, squeezing between the surfaces and the rickety chairs, backside waggling and jiggling perceptively as she bent over to the far end. Ben watched her as though in a fever-dream, wondering if this was real.

'Can you make it off the sofa?' she asked.

'Uh huh.'

'Up and at 'em,' she urged him.

Ben dragged himself from the sofa, at least feeling more motivated to move than before. He joined her at the kitchen table, only slightly cognisant that he hadn't showered and was still wearing his pyjamas.

'I bought you minestrone,' she said. 'From the baguette place. That okay?'

'Yes,' Ben said.

'Lovely.' She pulled a polystyrene container from the carrier bag and tugged off the lid. Steam spiralled into the air. 'And for me,' she added, pulling out a large baguette, a plastic-encased Caesar salad, and a tube of Oreos.

Ben began to focus very hard on the variety of words in front of him.

'Where are your bowls?' Tessa asked, pulling open the door of one of his sparsely-filled cupboards.

'Don't need one,' Ben said. 'Polystyrene's fine.'

'Brill, let's slob it today,' Tessa said. She placed his soup on the table, then plopped down next to him with a little gasp, her waistband obviously pulling tight into her torso. Paper rustled as she unwrapped her Monster Meatball baguette.

Ben poised his soup on the edge of the table and spooned it in absently as he went through his notes, vaguely strategizing his closing speech. He couldn't taste his meal, but it was hot and steamy and helped ease the pain in the bridge of his nose. Beside him, Tessa was once more looking through photographic evidence, frowning at photographs of the body.

Ben hoped against reason she would say something, spot something they hadn't spotted before, picked up on some glaring omission from the witness statements or police reports.

'Yeah,' Tessa said, wiping saucy fingers on her baguette paper. 'Guilty as sin, this one.'

'Yeah,' Ben agreed. 'Not good.'

'Life sentence?'


'The right thing, then.'

'I know. I just don't like losing.'

She patted his arm gently, then leant back in her chair and patted her stomach in turn.

'Ben,' she said, and Ben started, still unused to her using his name. 'You might be in the wrong - excuse me - line of work if you don't like to lose at least part of the time.' She carefully rose from her chair, looking a bit unbalanced, then asked, 'May I use your loo?'

'Er, sure,' Ben said. 'Door on the left.'


Ben glumly stared at his work for a minute, swirling his spoon through the remainder of his soup. On Tessa's side, only a half-tube of Oreos remained. The walls of his flat were thin. He could hear the flush of the toilet and running of water, and footsteps on the bathroom floor.

His phone chirped. He had a message.

From his bathroom scales.

They were a Bluetooth contraption, something he'd picked up in those days he'd been trying to bulk. He'd last weighed himself about three months before, had seen no movement past his familiar 165, and slid them behind the sink. He hadn't deleted the app from his mobile, though - had convinced himself that he'd get back to it, and would look back at his old stats with pride at having packed on so much new muscle.

Congratulations! the scales wished him. You have gained 32 pounds since your last weigh-in.

The sink ran in the bathroom. Ben stared at his mobile, something not clicking. Still not clicking.

Then: oh holy shit.

'I like your shower curtain,' Tessa called out as the bathroom door opened, and Ben shuffled his mobile hurriedly away, nearly upending his soup into his lap. While his hands fumbled the evidence, his brain fumbled the numbers, and as she appeared, it popped into his mind in bright red letters, burning above her head: 197. 197. 197.

Tessa had weighed herself. And Tessa weighed 197 pounds.

It was just a number, but for some reason that made his sitting at the table extremely uncomfortable, and if he stood, the effect of those digits would be quite obvious in his light cotton trousers.

Should he tell her? She, too, was looking a bit flushed, and maybe a bit pleased with herself, as she sat back down beside him, one hand on her tummy, the other lifting a double-stack of Oreos to her mouth.

What had she weighed when she started at chambers? 140? 145? Around there. She'd put on fifty pounds. Fifty pounds in three months.

'Have I told you that you look really nice today?' Ben blurted out, and Tessa looked up at him, her face reddening and a little white smile reappearing.

'You're feverish,' she said.

'Maybe a little,' he replied. 'You still look nice.'

'Thanks,' she said. She finished her Oreos and reached for another. 'Pretty fat, though.'

'Yes,' Ben said. He'd agreed. He'd said something. He'd agreed. He'd committed the ultimate male sin; the ultimate grievance against British decorum. 'I like it.'

Tessa's eyes widened. Her blush spread.

The engagement ring gleamed as she lifted another Oreo to her mouth.

06-02-2017, 09:35 AM

06-02-2017, 09:49 AM
It is exceptionally good !

06-02-2017, 01:07 PM
Definitely looking forward to the next installment! Great job!

06-02-2017, 11:34 PM
Thanks, all.


Nothing happened. Nothing changed.

Except that he was feeding her.

It started the afternoon after the trial. Guilty verdict, of course. Tessa brought him champagne ('Salut to getting rid of the creep,' she'd said) and they toasted each other while sat in his office at lunchtime, the new door firmly shut behind them.

'Thanks for your help,' Ben said. 'For everything, really.'

'My pleasure,' Tessa replied, a pretty blush spreading across her cheeks. She was wearing new dress of soft blue jersey (Ben missed the white one) and was comfortably wedged in the little client chair, her hips curling just an inch over each side, love handles pressing into the arms.

Ben reached beneath his desk and brought out a carrier bag. 'I got you a few things,' he said.

'Oh, Ben…you didn't have to. You know I'm just doing my job.'

'I know. It's nothing, really. I mean, I think you'll like it. Just…here.'

He handed the bag over. She set it in her lap and pulled apart the straps.
She smiled and reached inside.

'I like the chocolate ones,' she said, setting the six-pack of glazed donuts onto his desk by her flute of champagne.

'I know,' Ben replied, dry-mouthed.

There was more. 'I also like chocolates,' she said, setting the box on the floor by her feet, belly bunching up into two hand-sized rolls.

Ben grinned, slightly giddy.

'There's one more thing in there,' he prompted her, when, thinking it empty, she began to fold the bag away.

Curious, she reached inside once more and pulled out an envelope.

'A gift card,' she said, turning it over in her hands.

'For that American place you liked,' Ben said. Then he added begrudgingly, 'You could take Guy.'

'Oh.' Her smile was a bit hesitant. 'He'll like that. Thank you.'

The moments that followed were uneasy. Tessa interrupted them by reaching for the donuts and prying open the paper bag.

'Do you mind?' she asked.

He shook his head. 'Definitely not.'

She plucked a donut from the bag and lifted it to her lips. Tucked it away on the fifth bite. Washed it down with a swallow of champagne.

'More?' Ben asked her, tipping the bottle.

'Yes, please,' Tessa said.

He poured. Set the bottle down. Nudged the bag of donuts forward.

She watched his fingers, the gaping mouth of the paper bag. His chair groaned as he leaned back, the wheels giving a minute scream.

Something calm came over him. Something powerful and unrelenting. His heart was hammering, and his mouth was a desert, and his palms were sweaty. But his jaw was hard and his chin tilted back, and he flattered himself that he looked like he knew exactly what he was doing, that this was exactly what he had set out to do.

Across from him, Tessa stroked her belly, running her fingers affectionately across the dividing line at her navel, down across the lower swell where it lipped onto her thighs.

'Have another,' he said.

She looked at the bag. Looked to him, a look of surprise giving way to…something else. He gave away nothing.

He only watched her, waiting to see if she understood.

Have another. It hadn't been a suggestion.

She nodded. Slipped her fingers into the bag.

'Yes, sir,' she replied.

06-03-2017, 04:08 AM
The woman at Tesco was starting to recognise him. 'Don't know how you stay so skinny,' she said, her fake nails clacking as she scanned his daily six-pack of chocolate-glazed donuts.

'Fast metabolism,' Ben replied, watching as she ran through the two-litre of Coke.

Take away menus took up an entire drawer in his desk. By the window, he installed a discreet mini-fridge designed to look like a filing cabinet. In the kitchen, there was an entire cupboard full of packets of crisps, sweets, and tins of biscuits - all courtesy of Maria. 'My uncle owns a cash and carry,' she'd told Ben when he opened it in search for the sugar, only to be greeted by a small landslide of ridge-cut Walkers. 'I get discounts on all the stuff that's really bad for you.'

'Why-' Ben started to say, but Maria looked at him hard and said, 'Christine could really pack it away, couldn't she?'

Ben frowned at her, still not understanding.

'God,' Maria whispered. 'Tessa is going to get really fat.'

Tessa was getting really fat. Really, really fat. Her appetite was endless, and she was hardly ever deprived of the opportunity to indulge it. To everyone else, it became a sort of game. Her desk became a leaving-place for remains of overly large lunches their slender colleagues couldn't finish. Smitten solicitors sent her gifts of flowers, wine, and boxes of chocolates. Maria secretly watched Tessa in the kitchen as she fished biscuits and crisps from the cupboard and Maria scowled, something not quite connecting in her brain.

And almost every lunchtime, Ben shut Tessa with him in his office, set his fare before her, and told her, 'Eat.'

And every time, she looked at him with a small smirk, rumbled softly, and said, 'Yes, sir.'

He was desperate to find out how much she had gained. It had been over two months since she'd come to his flat, and she'd obviously put on more weight, seemingly at even more rapid pace than before. The blue jersey dress was now a second skin, stretching and straining over ballooning breasts, her always-full belly now level with the cups and making the skirt ride up above her knees to lower thighs that touched while standing. The twin rolls at each side were beginning to wrap around her back, spilling between the slats at the back of his too-small chair. At her desk in the main office, she had to rest her elbows on the armrests of her deck chair, tiring with the new weight of her doughy upper arms.

And she relished it. 'God,' Tessa said as she pulled herself from his chair, it giving a little thunk as it tried to cling to her backside. She stood before him in profile, sweeping her hands lightly down the soft, rounded curve of her full belly. 'I look pregnant.'

'A bit,' Ben relented, eyes fixed on the gentle movements of her plump hands.

'Not sure I'll be able to wear this dress much longer.'

'No,' Ben agreed. Underneath the desk, his legs were trembling. 'It's getting tight.'

This was their relationship now. This odd, dancing, erotic nothingness - their joking and friendship and growing platonic closeness coupled with these private half-hours shut in his office while the rest of chambers gossiped outside. It wasn't an affair. He had done nothing but talk (though not about what they were actually doing) and encourage her to eat. Correction: encourage her to eat a lot.

And he and Maria weren't the only ones feeding her.

'Guy took me to a steakhouse last night,' Tessa said she came in one morning, spectacularly round and a bit hungover. 'I've never eaten so much in my life. Did you know that never-ending garlic bread actually does have an end?'

Or, 'We're going to Majorca for holiday. All-inclusive. Guy insisted.'

Or, 'Guy says I'm getting too fat for his car.'

Ben wanted to ask what it was like at home. Was her fiancé like him? Did he have the same interests, the same regard for Tessa's growing form? Sometimes it sounded like he didn't - sometimes Tessa brought up his criticisms or his put-downs in a way that seemed shamed rather than flattered. But then she'd take pictures of her demolished lunch, or her takeaway curry, or Ben would catch her in the kitchen trying to frame her belly in her selfies, and her face would flush as she fumbled with her phone undoubtedly sending them to her fiancé.

Ben didn't think of those moments too often. He'd have to re-photocopy his notes because they kept crumpling in his hand.

It was only when she came back from her week in Majorca - browned, flush-faced, and breasts surging from the too-small cups of her bras - that Ben found courage, and found her at her desk going through invoices with Maria.
'Hello, stranger,' Tessa said, passing a paper to Maria to sign.

'Hey,' Ben said. The sullen fug he'd been in the past week - the after-effect of dining alone at lunch every day, not in the mood to entertain the colleagues or solicitors he'd been neglecting since he started his routine with Tessa - immediately lifted, and his body relaxed at the delight of once more being near her.

He bit his tongue and summoned the words:

'Would you and Guy like to come to dinner this weekend?'

'Sorry?' Maria said before Tessa couldn't answer.

'I hear a lot about him,' Ben said. 'I'd like to finally meet him.'

'Really?' Tessa asked.

'Maria's coming too,' Ben rushed to add.

'Am I,' Maria said.

'I think we're free,' Tessa said.

'Excellent,' Ben said. 'Saturday at 7:30?'

'Sure,' Tessa asked, a little wrinkle of confusion forming between her eyes.

'What if I'm not free?' Maria said.

'You are,' he said.

'Can I bring Lani?'

'Nope. Only four chairs,' Ben told her, and before she could protest, he said, 'See you both there,' and walked away whistling, on the inside wondering what the hell he'd just done.

07-02-2017, 08:56 AM
Ben bought a lump of beef, easy-roast potatoes, some gravy from the deli, and butter sauce for the vegetables. Bill sat and watched him from the table, podgy in his furry tuxedo, hoping for a scrap to fall within his reach.

'Not for you,' Ben told the cat gently, patting him on the head before going to wash the meat juice from his hand. 'It's all for her.'

Though of course it wasn't really. He'd happily forgo his own meal if it meant he could lift every bite from his plate to Tessa's lips. But she wasn't his, wasn't single, and for some reason, he had invited not only her, but her fiancé as well. Because he was a horny idiot who fancied her past the point of sense.

And he'd also invited Maria.

'You're such an idiot,' Maria said by way of greeting when Ben opened the door to his flat. She had a double layer chocolate cake under her arm and a canister of squirty cream poking out of her handbag. She lifted the cake. 'For your fat girlfriend,' she said.

'She's not my…if you say that while they're here I'll -'

'Untwist your knickers,' Maria said, pushing past him. 'I'm your friend, remember? I wouldn't be here if I wasn't.' She placed the cake on the table and gave Bill an absent pat. 'So what's the plan?'

'What?' Ben said, still in the doorway. He was wearing his apron, bracelets of washing up suds circling his wrists.

'Invite them over. Declare your love for Tessa. Knives out and fight Guy to the death, or-'

'No,' Ben said hurriedly. 'None of that.'

'Then why are you doing this?'

Ben couldn’t answer.

Maria prompted him on, her hands stuck in the pockets of her slim-cut trousers. 'Because you know you already see her every day.'

'I know,' Ben said. 'It's just…not enough.'

Maria pursed her lips. 'You're going to have your heart broken, you know.'

'Let's just get through dinner, OK?'

'Sure,' she said, popping the lid from the cake. 'Now, did you get any pudding for us? Because my bets are on Tessa eating this entire thing herself.'

Fifteen minutes later, when the table was dragged from the wall, the places were set, and the roast was keeping warm in the oven, there was a knock on the door. Ben and Maria answered together, arms linked, playing the hosting couple in some comradery that Ben hadn't technically agreed to but was thankful for, especially when his view of Tessa was immediately blocked by a slight man wearin a bowtie, slicked-back brown hair, and a full hipster beard.

'Er,' Ben said blankly. This wasn't what he'd been expecting at all. 'Hello?'

'You're Ben?' the man said, the beard breaking as he smiled. He held out a hand; on the wrist was the one thing that betrayed his job as a financier: an expensive-looking gold watch. 'Guy,' the man said.

Ben was confused. The image he'd had in his head - the image firmly set there by Christine's stories and Tessa's complaints - was of a severe, muscular man who lacked warmth, wit, or any degree of social grace. Or facial hair. Instead, Guy looked like he had got lost on the way to Glastonbury, and just happened to have found Ben's door, blocking enough that Ben couldn't quite glimpse Tessa behind him.

Ben took Guy's hand uneasily.

'Hey,' he said. 'Nice to finally meet you.'

Guy clasped him with two hands and gentle pressure, then finally, finally, stepped inside.

'Hi,' Tessa said.

Guy had cleared the way for her, was distracted, offloading his tartan jacket onto an equally confused-looking Maria, and Ben was thankful that Guy couldn't see the grin stretching across his face.

Tessa was wearing the blue dress again. Only it wasn't really a dress anymore. The waistline - if it could be called that now - had migrated north along with Tessa's own, and now sat just beneath her round, heavy breasts that struggled from a too-small bra, inches of creamy cleavage peeking from the deep v-neckline. The shoulders struggled to cover her plump arms. Across the expanse of her round, soft belly, fabric pulled into whiskers, except where it dipped in the deep hollow of the her navel, and clung even tighter to the billowing fat of her developing hang. She wore no leggings but thin tights instead, and from the shape of her, Ben wasn't sure they had made it past her hips. The dress barely could, either, stalling a few inches above the knees and showing off a dimpled thigh.

'Hi,' Ben said, stupefied.

'Hi,' Tessa said again.

Maria coughed behind them. Ben hurriedly stepped back, letting Tessa through, almost in pain for the exertion of keeping his hands at his side.

'Ben,' Maria said loudly, recalling his attention. 'Shall I crack open the wine?'

Drinks were served. Bill was introduced, and stroked by Tessa and given scratches by Guy (which also confused Ben, as he had convinced himself that Guy would be allergic, or had had a bad experience with a cat as a child, or would find some way to despise the best little man in Ben's life). Guy and Tessa sat on the sofa while the gravy heated, Bill finding a favourite soft spot on Tessa's belly to knead as she reclined against the white upholstery.

Tessa chuckled, scratching Bill behind the ears. Ben found himself watching the pliability of her stomach below the navel. Guy was making unexpectedly adept conversation with Maria about her cases, like he knew what he was talking about in spite of the beard. But Ben wasn't paying attention, nor could he.

He could only think one thing: Tessa was huge. It only seemed to take some sort of change of scene - catching sight of her on the street outside the office with her bag, rushing pink-faced to court, or here, sitting in his flat - to fully understand how large she'd become. Guy was just as slim as Ben was, and the contrast between them was almost comical: Tessa on the sofa cushions next to him, hair and makeup professional and sleek whilst the cushions sank alarmingly beneath her weight, her backside spreading to take up more than a third of the three-seater…then her fiancé next to her, bearded and cut like a cigarette in his white skinny jeans.

The timer went off. The gravy was ready.

'Right,' Maria said - his mouthpiece, apparently, as Ben hadn't been able to find words for a while now. 'Who's hungry?'

Tessa's eyes narrowed as she grinned.

At the table, Ben took up the carving knife. Maria dished out potatoes while Ben sliced the meat. Everyone took polite portions - even Tessa, who only made a meagre meal on her plate. Ben frowned at her paltry serving of potatoes and her anaemic slice of meat, and then scowled harder when Guy bent over her plate and, like a father, began to cut her beef into bite-sized pieces, handling his knife like a scalpel.

'Guy,' Tessa said. 'I can do it myself.'

'Sorry,' Guy said, setting her knife on her plate and turning his attention back to his own meal.

Ben frowned at the cut marks in Tessa's beef.

'So-' Maria asked Tessa and Guy, 'how did you two meet?'

'At a restaurant,' Guy answered, watching as Tessa guided her knife into the groove mark he'd created. For the first time, his friendly expression seemed to falter behind the beard.

'At uni,' Tessa said. Her knife scraped the plate. 'Just before I left. He was brilliant when my mum was ill.' She lifted her fork to her lips and chewed.

'You should have seen her,' Guy said. He tried to stab a pea but missed, distracted by Tessa slicing up another bite. 'You could practically see through her.'

'I lost a lot of weight when I was taking care of Mum,' Tessa said.

Ben started. How big had she been before? Her rapid gain made sense if her body was used to it. Old habits. Still, the size of her…it almost seemed unreal.

'I can imagine,' Maria replied. She still hadn't touched her food, and was instead swirling her wine while Tessa sliced another bite from her beef.

'Wouldn't know it by looking at me now,' Tessa said. Her smile was odd, not quite natural. Was she always like this around Guy? It was like she was a different person: uncertain, unsure, shy and meek and docile. Ben wasn't sure he liked it.

But maybe he was wrong. Maybe this was the real Tessa. Maybe the Tessa in his office - the Tessa who sat in front of him and lifted chocolate to her lips, and who he was sure would make a precise and passionate barrister if she'd ever been given a proper chance - was some sort of fantasy. It was far too erotic and dream-like to be real.

'You look great,' Guy said affably.

Ben had to bite back his agreement. He hated to admit it, because he hated him (he decided, at this moment), but Guy was…well, a nice guy. And why wouldn't he be? Tessa had good taste.

'More gravy?' Ben offered.

'Yes, please,' Guy replied, taking the jug and near-upending it onto Tessa's plate. 'Anyway,' he continued, 'after her mum passed, my work transferred me here. Tessa wanted to stay in Durham, but I talked her into tagging along. You love it here, don't you Tess?'

Ben stared at his plate as she answered, though he could feel her eyes burning into the top of his head.

'Yes,' she said.

The meal carried on like this: Polite, not-too-revealing conversation. Meaningful glances avoided as Ben paid more attention to his food than the woman across from him. Maria putting away a few morsels before declaring herself full. Guy doing his best impression of a mother bird, returning with every leaving on the table to Tessa's plate. 'Has everyone had enough?' he asked of the potatoes, before sliding the remainder into Tessa's gravy. Or, 'Were you planning leftovers tomorrow?' before Ben gestured no and Guy carved the rest to convey to the empty space once occupied by Tessa's buttered peas.

Ben's face was burning, his trousers uncomfortable. Tessa was obviously full, eating slowly, but still eating.

And it was undeniable:

Ben was turned on.

It was embarrassing. He didn't even watch porn because he hated other men imposing on his fantasies (among various other reasons), and yet here he was, this ridiculous man seeing to Tessa's appetite like she couldn’t serve herself. And Tessa wasn’t even particularly happy about it; that was also clear. 'I'm an adult,' she whispered once, obviously hoping for conversation to cover her defiance as Maria asked Ben for the location of another bottle of wine. 'Let me cut up my own bloody food.'

Guy's murmured response: 'No. Keep eating. You're not done.'

As much as he hated the idiot, Ben couldn't help but imagine, just for a few moments, that he was Guy. Sitting there beside Tessa, pressed into her soft, swelling side. The angle of his shoulder making obvious that he was sliding his palm across her thigh and belly beneath the table.

His attentions made it clear. Both Guy and Ben shared something besides feelings for the same woman: a want to see her fat. A want to see her stuff herself silly, then take her home after this was done, pry from her that tight blue dress, guide her onto the groaning bed and-

Ben was thankful Maria was there to retrieve dessert from the kitchen, because he daren't stand up.

'Room for cake?' Maria said, returning with the chocolate monstrosity slid onto a plate, the squirty cream tucked under her arm.

'Tessa would love some,' Guy said.

'Guy,' Tessa said. Her face was pink, her eyes not glazed - as they sometimes were in Ben's office after one of their long, filling lunches - but sharp, and flashing. Cowed, Guy turned his attention back to his place setting.

Still, she did not reject the small plate that Maria sat in front of her, and she was the first to take the cake knife and cut a healthy slice of her own. The first to tilt it onto her plate. The first to lick icing from her fingers. The first to upend the cream canister and pile a layer four inches high.

The first to go back for seconds.

Guy said not a word, but his eyes followed every movement of the fork in Tessa's hand. Ben didn’t say a thing either. Not even as Tessa took thirds.
Maria's eyes were wide as Tessa took 'Just a sliver' for fourths. Holy shit, she mouthed at Ben, while Ben stared dumbstruck, and Guy looked on grinning with something akin to pride.

'Oof,' Tessa said at last. She was impossibly round. She'd slumped back against Ben's chairs, and jumped a bit at the back groaned behind her. She rested her hands on the crest of her belly, the engagement ring flashing, her flushed face sinking into its double chin. She lifted her serviette to her lips. 'Excuse me,' she whispered. Her eyes set on Ben. 'May I use your loo?'

'Erm,' Ben said. 'Of course.'

All three watched as Tessa gingerly rose from her chair, round belly bumping the table, sending water sloshing in her glass. Pulled her snug dress firmly down around her thighs where it had attempted to migrate northwards. The jiggle of her backside as she retreated into the corridor. The bathroom door clicked. Locked.

Ben was suddenly sweating, his mobile phone pressing hard against his hip.
Would she do it?

She had before, without prompting. Now here she was, full to the brim…she would do it. Wouldn't she? She had to.

It almost felt perverse, like spying. He should tell her what he knew. That her figures were beamed straight to his smartphone. But he couldn't do that now, here, could he? Not with Guy here. Not with Guy so obviously out of things to say now that Tessa had left the room, and who was now entertaining himself with his mobile phone while he pulled his stupid beard into mini-dreads with his fingers.

In the silence, the flush of the toilet was obvious. So was the creak of floorboards that Ben didn't remember hearing last time Tessa had visited his flat. He could so clearly imagine her in there, the mirror lying to her, refusing to show her the effects of the last months' excess. The scales on the floor, sleek and cold and grey. Plump little feet. The press of painted toes to tare, the waiting red 0, the flash of so many numbers as it creaked, adjusting to her weight.

And what a weight it would be. Every meal that they had shared clung to her, from her plump breasts to her mountainous belly, from her doughy arms to her second chin to her swelling hips and jiggling thighs. Monster Meatballs hung from her navel to brush her mound; donuts ran fat rings around her fingers and made the engagement ring unmovable. Ironic, Ben thought, that he'd helped cement its place there, when he wanted nothing more than to see it flung off, never to find its way back to her hand. He wanted it badly, and even more now that he could picture the enemy. Even more now, now that the shiny-bright veneer was gone and Guy was ignoring them, and flicking through Facebook on his phone.

Ben's pocket vibrated. His fingers bit his knees through his trousers. The bathroom door creaked open, and Tessa emerged, bright-eyed a bit a startled, face a very flushed pink.

She looked at Ben. Been looked at his lap, where the bulges of cock and phone competed for prominence.

'More wine?' Maria asked.

Guy and Tessa refused.

'Please,' Ben replied, patting his mobile with a sweaty hand. Later.

He wasn't sure how long he could last, was considering excusing himself to the loo, but Guy - the prick - was merciful. Drinks were finished swiftly, his hand always finding a place on Tessa to rest - on a side, on a shoulder, on her belly, his thumb running circles on Tessa's upper arm. Impatience finally got the better of him, and, apparently, just like Ben, he could no longer stand it.

'Well,' he said as he pushed his chair back. 'That was great, thank you. I suppose we best be on our way.'

Maria and Ben followed them both to the door. Maria offered Guy his jacket. Ben went to offer Tessa hers, then remembered she hadn't been wearing one. He wondered if she even had one that fit.

'Cheeky ask,' Guy said, chin pointing to the quarter of the cake remaining under plastic on the dining table. 'Don't suppose you're looking to get rid of that?'

Ben met Tessa's eyes over Guy's shoulder. She bit her lip, pink tinging her rounded cheeks.

'I was going to bring it to work on Monday, actually,' Ben replied.

'Fair dues,' Guy said. He held out his hand. 'Hey, thanks. Brilliant meal. And lovely to meet you both.'

'Thank you for coming,' Ben said, shaking his hand while Tessa skimmed her fingers over the impossible bulging roundness of her belly. It was only just then that Ben noticed that the hem of her dress was riding higher, even pulled down - had risen up to the fleshiest part of her meeting thighs.
Guy moved away, leaving clear space, clear air between Ben and Tessa.

The space closed.

It was the first time he'd touched her, he only realised then. The first time he'd laid one hand on her. And now she was here, and her fiancé was there, and her soft, bulging roundness was pressed against him, pushing firmly into his flat belly, soft breasts into his ribs, soft hands on his shoulders as she stood on her tiptoes for a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

'See you Monday,' she whispered into his ear like some sort of secret, then leaned back, her gaze dark, significant.

Ben cleared his throat. 'See you then.'

There was waving. Tessa's crinkly smile. The door closed.

Ben turned to find Maria behind him, arms crossed, looking dazed.

'Er,' she said, while her face spoke plainly: What a weird fucking night. 'I'll load the dishwasher, I suppose.'

'Okay,' Ben replied. 'Be right back.'

Maria nodded. Ben rushed to the bedroom, prying his mobile from his trouser pocket.

His thumb fumbled the button. His finger fumbled the passcode. He'd barely got his flies undone when the message flashed up on his phone:

Be careful! it said. You have gained fifty-four pounds.

'Oh God,' Ben gasped, his left hand sticky, his mobile clutched tight in his right. 'Oh God.'

Then his phone vibrated. Another message had arrived. It was from Tessa, like she knew, like she was offering post-coital affection.

It was only two letters:


His hand trembled. Kisses.

His breathing rattled. Fifty-four pounds.

'Can cats have gravy?' Maria called from the kitchen.

'Oh God,' Ben breathed.

'Too late!' Maria shouted back.

Ben slumped against his chest of drawers in his sparsely-decorated bedroom, shaking as he attempted to hold himself up.

Fifty-four pounds.

And it was obvious. Those weren't just his pounds. Not his donuts or his baguettes or his influence or teasing or command.

They were Guy's too.

'Fuck him,' Ben breathed.

Because he loved her. Her work ethic and her wit, her brain and her body and her laugh. He loved every molecule, every rolling, jiggling inch.

He wanted her. All of her.

And from the warmth of her embrace, from those hours in his office, from the look in her eyes as she pulled away from him, plump fingers grasping at the lapel of his shirt. He knew the truth.

She wanted him, too.

'Guy was nice,' Maria said when Ben returned to the kitchen a few minutes later, scrubbed and smelling of hand soap. 'Young, but nice.'

'Uh huh,' Ben agreed.

'You seem to have the same taste in women.'

'Uh huh.'

'And they're engaged. Like, established engaged. Still-in-love-even-when-they've-annoyed-each other engaged.'

'I know.'

Maria shut the dishwasher with her hip.

'And you're in love with her.'

No answer, except for the wet sound of Bill licking gravy from the bottom of the jug.

'So,' Maria said, 'how's that going to work?'

Ben sighed. 'I haven't the faintest fucking clue.'

Benny Mon
07-05-2017, 06:35 AM
This is exceptionally good - really excited to see this newest installment. Keep up the good work!

07-07-2017, 06:46 AM
I like the twist here, really good - looking forward to more :)

07-07-2017, 03:39 PM
Holy crap! Love this!! The tension is awesome--it builds with the weight!

08-17-2017, 10:28 PM
Any chance of an update soon?

08-18-2017, 01:20 PM
A/N: Your wish is my command. Apologies for the delay - working too hard.

Sorry, this bit seems to have more story and less fat.


Monday morning, Ben went to his office whistling, cake, squirty cream, and a dozen donuts swinging in the bottom of his Tesco bag. He also went with resolutions, his heart pounding, his head buzzing. He was going to tell her he loved her. Or at least liked her. Or at least that he wanted her to dump Guy.

'Why would I do that?' Imaginary-Tessa asked him as he played out the conversation in his head, weaving through pavement thick with the London commute. 'Give me one good reason why I would dump the man I've been with for years.'

Ben had to think hard. The beard was a good reason, but it had to be something deeper than that. His job - soulless, undoubtedly, but it spun good money and kept Tessa well-fed.

He kept playing the dinner party over and over in his head. Watching Guy take his knife and fork to Tessa's plate, her annoyed requests that he stop treating her like a baby.

That was the crux, surely. The sore point. He just needed to pick at it. Suggest it. Make her think it was her own idea, her fiance's pratishness. Nothing to do with him at all.

His brain wasn't the only thing buzzing as he went into chambers. Reception was, too, a swarm blocking the corridor to his office.

A swarm surrounding Tessa's desk.

'I like that one,' someone was saying--Ginger, one of the juniors. 'Though maybe without sleeves.'

'Too fussy,' Maria said from deep within the crowd. 'Get something to show off your tits.'

'Get off my tits,' Ben heard Tessa say, from somewhere even deeper in the thrall. 'I just need something that will fit me.'

There was a thick silence, and Tessa chirped, 'Diet it is!' and everyone began going back to their desks and offices, and Ben stood there in the doorway, carrier bag hanging limply from his hand.

Only Tessa was left at her desk, sipping from a bottle of water. Her fat belly sat round in her lap, tucked neatly against the jut of her desk, her thighs brushing the keyboard tray. On her plump finger, her ring sparkled more than usual, like it had been newly polished.

She put her bottle down. She didn't smile at him.

'Set a date for the wedding at last,' she said, still not smiling, her lips a bit wobbly around the edges, chin doubling sweetly. 'Nineteenth of August, this year.'

In an instant, everything that happened after she left Saturday night was erased. That text message, that leaning forward into his ear, everything implied with those whispered words. All of the conversations planned in Ben's mind. All of his declarations of love.

'I'm happy for you,' Ben said, donuts pressing, deflated, to his knee.

'Yeah,' Tessa said. She turned the mouth of the bottle around in her palm. 'Funny, isn't it? Spent all this time assuming it would never happen, then Sunday morning he tells me he's booked the parish church.'

'He's a great guy,' Ben said, maybe with a little bit of puke in his mouth.

'He is,' Tessa looked at her computer, then back at him, the plastic bottle squeaking in her fingers. 'Well,' she said, 'better get back to work.'

'Me too,' Ben said.

He shut himself into his office until lunch, Tessa not knocking once. Then he ate two donuts and was sick in the en suite. Maria appeared behind him as he was washing out his mouth, her arms crossed, trim body leaning up against the door frame, head cocked to one side.

'Sorry,' she said.

'Yeah, well,' he said, drying his mouth on the hand towel.

'It's not done yet,' she said.

'Might as well be.'

'The guy's a wanker,' she huffed. She turned to go, hands in her pockets, all trim, casual grace. 'You know that, I know that, she knows that. She'll do the right thing. Just…be there for her, when she figures it out, okay? She needs to do it. Not you.'

Ben threw the towel on the sink and stalked back to his chair.

'I mean it, Ben,' Maria said.

'And you think I'm an idiot.'

'You are,' Maria said. 'But she's not. Just trust her, okay?' He looked up at her, stone-faced, to find a soft expression, and care in her dark eyes. 'She doesn't want to marry him either,' she said.

'Could've fooled me.'

'Not difficult,' Maria said. Her smirk faltered. 'Besides, if she wanted to go through with it, with him, would she be dieting?'

Ben frowned at her, not understanding.

'I'll leave you with that nugget,' she said. Her hand landed on the knob of his office door, turning it gently. 'And in the meantime, we can just fantasise about how fat we'll make her when she stops.'

08-18-2017, 01:58 PM
Zero apologies required for that chapter -- fit the story perfectly :) (and I hope your work slacks up a bit soon, for our sake :p )

Benny Mon
08-18-2017, 07:15 PM
These characters feel like real people, and the arc is compelling and the pacing spot on. One of the best stories I've ever read here!

08-19-2017, 02:20 PM
When did food last taste of anything? Ben couldn't remember. He'd stopped eating lunch sometime after those donuts, and the contents of his mini-fridge ended up in the compost bin.

'I'm worried about you.' Maria bent over his desk, his face in her hands, fingers framing the plain of each cheek. 'You're not well.'

'I'm fine,' Ben insisted, batting her hands away and trying to get back to his work.

'You look like shit. Your work must be awful.'

'Haven't lost a case in weeks.'

'Mmhm,' Maria replied. 'I've heard you're making witnesses cry.'

'She was sensitive.'

'You're being an asshole to everyone.'

'I'm not doing anything.' Ben slid backwards in his wheeled chair and tossed crumpled notes into the recycling bin.

'You think you're not but you are.' Maria crossed her arms and shivered, thin as she was, even wrapped in a cashmere cardigan. She tapped her fingers against the cuff of her sleeve and was obviously weighing what she was about to say.

'She misses you, you know.'

Ben crumpled up another paper - one he still needed - and threw it so hard into the bin it bounced.

'You're going to start losing clients.'

'She's still sending me work.'

'She's the only one. The other clerks are avoiding you.'

'It's enough.'

'Let's just hope you've set free loads of repeat offenders, then.' Maria sighed and sagged onto the back of his rickety client chair. He'd never got a new one. He supposed he wouldn't, now.

'Look,' she said. 'Guy is an asshole. She's on a diet so he's been sending her food everyday. Delivery and great big bloody gift baskets full of Milk Tray. I've been taking them-'

'Why have you been taking them?'

'None of your business,' Maria sniffed, a bit pink in the cheeks. 'My point is, he's not listening to her. She wants to lose weight for the wedding and he's sabotaging her. All this, and I heard Tess mention that he votes Tory.'

'You vote Tory.'

'Yes, but at least I have the decency to be embarrassed by it.'

Ben sighed. 'You're being ridiculous,' he said, his cheeks suddenly feeling very hollow as he glared up at her with sore eyes.

'Maybe,' she said. She opened her mouth, then calmly licked her lips, ruminating on the next words to say.

'Look,' she said. 'I'm not sure I should say anything, but... someone's been writing anonymous complaints about her to the Ancient Ones.'

That caught Ben's attention.

'What?' Ben said. 'Why?'

'Because I think someone wants to get her fired so she'll stay home and grow too fat to leave the house.'

There. Something, something deep down, responded to that. Something in his chest, and in his stomach, blooming red, like anger. And something entirely different between his legs.

'You are such a perv,' Maria said.

'You're one to talk,' Ben said.

'Only because you're contagious. Ben. Ben, bloody look at me, will you?'

Ben forced his eyes from his folio to her face, only to find her glaring at him, jawline clenched so tight it could cut leather.

'I know she's clever,' Maria said. 'I know she'll figure it out on her own eventually. But eventually's too long.' She reached into her pocket and brought out a Yorkie bar, and flung it onto his desk over the crime scene photographs. 'Eat this. Go to the gym. Wear something pretty. Remember to smile'


'Give her something to miss,' Maria said, wide trousers swishing as she turned to go. She added darkly, 'For all our sakes.'

08-20-2017, 04:19 PM
This is great! Hopefully the story won't end when Ben (supposedly) gets the girl. I'd love to see her get really big. :D

Xyantha Reborn
08-23-2017, 12:45 PM
Came late to the party but am enjoying this!

08-24-2017, 09:55 AM
Came late to the party but am enjoying this!

Right? Such good stuff!!

08-31-2017, 08:22 PM
Outstanding work....hope that you find time to continue.

09-03-2017, 07:27 AM
Everyday, Ben went to work, slipping through crowds like he was someone else, not really feeling, not really caring, just as distant from himself as he was from every other person in a city of millions.

Everyday, Ben lunch in his office by himself, picking at dry sandwiches that Maria kept buying him from the Co-op, ignoring the receipts she slipped beneath his mug, and could only eat half of them before sliding the rest into the bin.

Everyday, Ben went home at 5:05, patted Bill (who tried to eat his hand), and sat down in the front of the television in order to fully disengage what little remained of his brain.

'Stop this,' he muttered to himself. In the mirror over the television, the visible slice of his face looked gaunt and hollow. His brother would clap him about the head if he could see him right now. 'For a woman?' he would say, with a thick slap to the back of the skull. 'This isn't right, Benny Boy. Get your head out of your arse. You don’t need her. Fuck, mate, would you look at yourself?'

But he did need her. Even now, staring into his own hollow eyes, that one memory floated to the front of his mind: he and Tessa, sitting just a few feet away at the kitchen table, so close that he could have slid a hand over onto her plump thigh. But he'd been ill, and in love, and would never touch her. Not unless she touched him first.

'What would I do without you?' Ben had asked her then, trying not to cough up into his soup.

And in his head, clearer still is that voice, the dampened lilt of the slight Geordie accent, choked with suppressed laughter: 'Die, probably.'

He was beginning to think there was a strong possibility she was right.

And Guy? Was he truly trying to get her fired? He couldn’t say; he'd only met him once, and he'd been inoffensive enough then, despite how much Ben hated him. And really, what was the difference between Guy and himself? If Tessa were his fiancé, could he say he wouldn't be coaxing her with treats and heavy meals, helping her get fatter, and fatter, and fatter?

Yes, he could. Because Tessa didn't want to. And unlike Guy, he wasn't a fucking prick.

Ben lifted himself from the sofa as though he weighed a thousand pounds, and took a deep breath that sent some of that heaviness rolling from his shoulders. His chest expanded in the mirror, and light from the lamp reflected in his dark eyes.

Then he went to extract his gym kit from Bill's cat nest under his bed.

The next day, he wobbled into work, fists clenched in resolve, legs sore, but feeling something. Smelling something, too - the toxic tang of polluted city air as it gave way to must and the light, biscuit-y note of Tessa's perfume.
Ben's nails dug into his palms. He steeled himself and gathered his voice.

'Hey,' he said.

Too loud, and a bit too assertive. Tessa started and looked up from her computer screen. It was early on a Friday, a half hour before most everyone got in, and they were the only ones in reception. The other desks were empty, the phones quiet, and Tessa sat in her desk chair, an empty fruit salad container sitting beside her keyboard.

'Hey,' she said. There was an odd tightness to her eyes and smile, something quite plastic and pained.

'How are you?' Ben asked. His own voice sounded just as strange. His skin cracked over his knuckles.

'I'm fine,' Tessa replied. 'How are you, sir?'

Ben winced at that, that title instead of his name. It'd never bothered him before, especially not when shut up in his office, food spread out between them, her backside wedged into his client chair.

She was looking quite a bit smaller, now, and a bit deflated in the same blue jersey dress she'd worn to his dinner party. There was excess fabric around her belly, which looked sad and empty, sitting gently on her lap, an easy gap between navel and desk. Her breasts were smaller, her cheeks less round, her arms no longer straining at the sleeve seams. Her knee-high boots gaped around her calves.

She knocked the empty salad bowl with her finger, looking rather hungry, too.

'Fine,' he replied. 'You're here early.'

She had been lately. Staying later than him, too. He'd started leaving with the five o'clock rush just so he could sneak by her desk without her noticing, swallowed in the flurry of activity.

'Easier to stick to my diet,' she said. 'Out of the temptations at home.'

'Diet?' Ben said dryly. He licked his lips. He knew she was dieting. Maria had said as much, and the evidence was clear: like everything she set her mind to, she was good as losing weight…nearly as good as she was at gaining it.

'I'm down over two stone,' she said. 'Hoping to be down at least another by the wedding.'

WHY? Ben wanted to cry out, but he wasn't Guy, he wasn't a shit, and he wasn't going to say that.

Besides, her voice sounded so strange, like she hated that word as much as he did. You don't need to lose a pound, Ben wanted to tell her. You're beautiful no matter your weight. I wish you'd let me show you. I wish I could prove it.

'As long as you're happy,' Ben said, though it came out a bit bitter, not at all as he intended.

'It's not that,' Tessa replied hurriedly, her cheeks flushed. 'I mean…not really. It's my mum's wedding dress.'

She bent down and began to dig through her handbag, then pulled out her mobile phone. She handed it to Ben.

'My mum,' she explained, as though he wouldn’t be able to see the resemblance.

It was a photograph of a photograph, and of someone who was obviously closely related to the woman in front of him: dark haired, high-cheekboned, but different around the chin - more pointed. She was slimmer, too, but only a little. Tessa's mother was much plumper than he thought she would be from how Tessa had described her, wasting away in her final days. She looked exuberant here, curvy and full and mirthful, radiant on her wedding day.

'She had the sense not to go full Diana,' Tessa said. 'It's simple, but I like it. I never thought I'd fit into it, but I started losing weight and got it in my head-' She plucked her mobile from Ben's open hand with a sigh. 'My heart's set on it now.'

Ben stood there awkwardly for a moment, feeling like had something else he had to say, the warmth of her mobile still sitting in his palm.

His tongue twisted and formed words that he wanted to say but wouldn't come. So many things, so many truths and lies and requests, all about making her dump Guy, her want Ben, her help him get rid of this disgusting, shrivelling feeling inside of him.

'You'll look beautiful,' he said at last, 'no matter what you wear.'

A smile edged across her face, that shallow dimple appearing, a calm warmth pooling in her dark eyes.

Then she bit her lip and slid her mobile away.

'I think Jen has a new case for you,' she said. The words were business, but the tone was something else. Her eyes didn’t leave his; she hardly seemed to blink. 'I'll have her pass it on when she gets in.'

'Thanks you,' Ben said. He didn't dare look away. 'I appreciate it.'

'That's my job,' she said, and at last turned back to her computer screen, the moment over.

He watched her type for a few seconds, wondering if there was something else he should say, then he turned to go, only to be stopped by one small word, so quiet he could hardly hear it:


He turned to see her watching him, spun toward him in her desk chair, still-plump thighs pressed against the armrests, curling over the sides.

'Thank you,' Tessa said.

Something suddenly shuddered to a start in Ben's chest. A little flutter of purpose, or hope.

'For what?' he said.

Tessa shrugged, breasts jiggling minutely beneath the thin jersey.

'Sometimes I forget,' she said.

'Forget what?' Ben asked, hands hanging uselessly at his sides.

'What I'm missing," she said. "Who I'm missing.'

Then she blushed furiously, turned back to her computer screen, and reached into a little pot beside her computer.

Ben went to back to his office, cellophane rustling in his ears, followed by the sound of a boiled sweet sucked onto Tessa's sweet tongue.

09-04-2017, 01:50 PM
Thank you for this installment! Bated breath!

09-04-2017, 08:41 PM
It's getting good! I just know something is about to happen!

09-17-2017, 09:06 AM
Tessa is an awesome character. I'm looking forward to more . . .

09-24-2017, 10:36 AM
He wasn't sure what had done it - the words he said, that boiled sweet, or just something invisible in Tessa's own mind - but something had changed in those brief moments that Friday morning. He found Tessa smiling at him as he cruised into work, whistling. More cases appeared on his desk, and he was busier than ever.

And the contents of his mini-fridge were starting to vanish, like magic.

It was just a few things here and there: the remaining hunks of Diary Milk, the small bottle of Coke, the last Gu pudding from the pack. Then the pint of Ben and Jerry's. Then the pint he replaced it with. Then another.

Mysteriously, they appeared - empty and sweating - in the recycling bin down the hall.

And more appeared on Tessa, too.

He felt guilty at first, knowing he was deliberately sabotaging her efforts to slim into her mother's wedding dress. But something about it - something about those smiles, and those stealthy movements so early in the morning - told a different story. Perhaps, he thought, Tessa might be attempting to sabotage herself.

It was starting to show.

The pounds were reappearing….slowly, at first, filling back in that lower belly that had deflated in her smart pencil skirts, breasts straining at the buttons of her tops. She was still smaller than she'd been that fateful night at Ben's flat, but in some ways, she seemed rounder, plumper, sweeter. Maybe because it was done in secret, and caught in secret glances whenever he walked by her desk. Maybe it was because he wasn't allowed to look.

Maybe it was because she kept catching him looking.

It was torture, but the sweetest kind. They were talking again, little by little - snatched conversation in his office and the corridor and outside before they went opposite directions home. Tessa gave him an invitation to the wedding. Ben gave it to Bill to shred to pieces - a short streak of bitterness of which he would never tell Tessa.

Those moments grew, multiplied. They spent time together, electively, at lunch, with his office door open. He sat on her desk as they went through client correspondence and crown court judgements. He crouched beside her as she flicked through obscure parliamentary laws on Hansard.

It was something, at least. This friendship. This thing they had. Maybe nothing would come from it. Maybe it was okay.

He certainly enjoyed her company, and she certainly enjoyed his. They went out for lunch together with Maria and a hurried, flustered Christine, who bolted her meals in seconds before plastering a kiss to Maria's sharp cheek and flying away with her wig, her trousers looking a bit snug around her backside. Ben and Tessa both gave Maria puzzled glances, which Maria studiously ignored as she mopped up black pepper with her courgetti Bolognese. The glances were instead exchanged between them, and Tessa stifled a giggle into her full-fat Coke.

That night, Ben nearly broke his hand on the punching bag at the gym.

Leave him, Ben wanted to tell her every day. Every day as she came in looking that little bit fuller, a little happier to see him. Ben's wishes were winning for her body, but fuck, they were Guy's wishes too. And they weren't Tessa's - Tessa, who'd been so eager to squeeze into her mother's wedding dress for their wedding - something she hadn't brought up in conversation since she showed Ben the photograph on her phone.

What did Tessa want? What did he want? She'd wanted to marry in her mother's dress a man who wanted her too fat to walk down the aisle. Ben wanted her plump and happy and his. No one was winning, and Tessa was not a woman to be won.

Leave him, Ben thought - mentally chanted - one evening as he waited for her at Charring Cross Station. It was the one time of year that Ben didn't feel like he worked in criminal law, and he hated it. It had become annual tradition ever since Everton had that near-death experience on the M25 with the black cab driver and the heart attack, and in a fit of odd generosity had booked out rooms at the National Gallery for all barristers, employees, and important associates of Everton and Sligh. The generosity didn't extend to plus ones, so it usually involved drinking too much with Maria and whispering about what bald winged babies in the paintings looked most like which crown court judges. But tonight Maria had managed to secure a ticket for Christine, and Ben had been planning to spend the night in with Bill and Chinese takeaway until Tessa had shown up in his office, hands clasped, tight engagement ring glimmering, and asked him, 'Are you going to the big do? Because I'll go if you go.'

Only as friends, of course. It didn't need to be said.

But it also didn't matter. So Ben went. And he stood. And he waited at the Underground station for her with his hands in his pockets, wondering if tonight would be the night that something, anything, would happen.

He jumped at the sound of his name - Tessa's voice calling from the other side of the ticket barriers, waving. She pushed through slightly sideways and every word in Ben's mind that he had planned for this evening simply vanished into the thick, hot air.

Tessa was wearing a silk black dress that he hadn't seen before. It slid and tugged over every lush curve of shoulder, breast, waist, and hip, cut short above soft plump arms and low to show off an inch or two of the creamiest, lushest cleavage he'd ever seen. She wore her hair up in an artfully untidy chignon, and long silver drop earrings swung wildly with each undulation of her full body, brushing the line of her neck as she moved. There was something so smooth about her walk, so sensual, and her red lips parted in a smile as she approached him and pressed her mouth lightly to his cheek.

'You look amazing!' she said before he could, pulling back to admire his smart dinner suit that fit much better in the shoulders than it used to. She was pink-faced and panting slightly, balancing a silver clutch and a black cardigan on one arm. 'Who knew you'd tidy up so well? Saving the best for last, were you?'

Ben grinned stupidly, not able to form the words to repay the compliment.
Tessa glanced at her watch as people jostled by them, muttering.

'Best get on,' Tessa said, frowning minutely. 'Don't want to make too grand an entrance. Sligh won't be happy if I show up both fat and late.'

'Fuck Sligh,' Ben managed to say at last - not the first words he'd planned on. 'You are stunning.'

She graced him with a beaming smile, then took his hand.

Only to promptly drop it as though he'd burned her.

'Off we pop then,' she said with a tug of his sleeve. 'And all charm canons loaded and ready to fire.'

'I'll save mine for later,' Ben replied. 'Some of us have limited reserves.'

She laughed. Ben's heart jolted at the sound of it.

They earned only a few glances as they entered, Tessa a bit more out of breath for the effort of climbing the stairs, Ben a bit out of breath for the view, having climbed them behind her. There was perhaps some puzzlement from the other attendants, and a few furrowed brows at Tessa's generous bulk wrapped up so lovingly in her daring black dress, but few dared look for long. Even better, no one approached them, and Tessa was free to pick a healthy portion off the nibbles tray before the waitress made it fully out onto the floor.

Ben sipped his prosecco. Tessa looked up at a giant painting of a lactating Madonna with child, a posh sausage roll poised halfway to her mouth.

'Christ,' she said.

'I think that's the idea,' Ben said.

She laughed again. God, how Ben loved that sound.

'I always forget that the old masters were such perverts,' Tessa said.

Ben raised an eyebrow. This conversation was doing something to him. Not the topic, of course - just…Tessa. Her voice. Her smile. Her laugh. Her being here with him. It was making him flush, making his head fill up with a strange sound almost like the happy, lazy summertime buzz of flies. It was joy, he thought. Pure, unadulterated joy at her presence. This is what he had missed those months they'd stopped talking. This is what he wasn't sure he could live without. Who could blame him?

And here she was, wanting to be with him too.

'Were they,' he said with his own laugh, feeling - oddly - like he might start to cry.

'I realised when I came here with Guy. There are so many of Mary squirting milk at someone's face - at Jesus, at some poor by-passer, at the viewer….'

'I just thought that was a Christian thing,' Ben said.

'Not in any church I've ever been to. I think it might be a 400-years-before-internet thing.' A second sausage roll disappeared between her red lips. She cast a glance through the gallery door. 'How far do you reckon they'll let us wander?'

'They're pretty lax, last I remember,' Ben said, trying not to think of the one time he'd caught Everton pissing up a wall in the Bologna room.

'Excellent. Let's go look for fat women,' Tessa said.

She lifted a plate from another passing tray then took off through the nearest gallery door. Ben followed, intrigued, confused, and perhaps a little turned on.

She walked with the china plate in one hand, a champagne flute in the other, and quite quickly, like she knew where she was going. It was only another corner before they could no longer hear the music, voices, and clatter of dishes from the party, only the click of her heels and his shoes on the marble floor, and the soft swish of her dress and rub of her thighs beneath it.

'I think I remember them being this way,' Tessa wondered to herself. 'What do you think?'

'Where you lead,' Ben said, 'I'll follow.' His throat felt rather dry. He took another sip of his prosecco.

She took a hold of his sleeve again, and held on a bit longer this time. 'Let's go, then.'

Finally, they arrived in the Rubens room, and Tessa stood in the centre, a relatively small, stark black-and-white form against the grand pink walls. She looked up, throat angled, and took a few steps toward a painting.

'Have you seen this one before?' Tessa asked.

Ben was still standing in the doorway, watching her, unsure what to think or say or feel or act.

'I've never seen any of them,' she said. Her head was tilted sideways as she looked, earrings swinging. 'I always thought they'd be bigger in person.'

Ben went to stand beside her, still a healthy distance away.

It was The Judgement of Paris, according to the plaque at its side. Two men - one of them Paris, presumably - anchored themselves to a tree, while in the foreground stood three female nudes in various lengths of cloth and in various provocative poses. All three women were solid-looking, maybe a bit plumpish. Two faced the men, but one had eyes set on the viewer…in challenge or in invitation, Ben couldn’t tell.

'The painting?' Ben said. It was already a large one, nearly two metres across. His arm was tired just looking at it.

'The women,' Tessa clarified. 'Rubens has always been so famous for his fat women, but they're not really fat, are they? Just normal. Healthy. Unless I have body dysmorphia.' She gave a short, sharp laugh. 'Which might be possible.'

'No, I think so,' Ben says. 'They just look average to me.'

'Nice arses, though.'

Ben grinned. 'Not bad.'

'There are so few truly fat women in classic art.'

'Not many black men, either,' Ben said.

'No,' Tessa agreed, frowning.

Ben's face was flushing hot, and he said it before he could rethink: 'Maybe I could paint you someday.'

Tessa gave a jolt of surprise. 'You paint?'

'I took art at A level,' Ben admitted sheepishly.

'I had no idea!'

'Not many people do.'

'I'd love to see,' Tessa said. She added wistfully, 'Someday.'

They stood in silence for a moment, staring at the Rubenesque backsides. This is it, Ben thought. This is the moment. Do something. Say something. This is your chance.

'Let's go back,' Tessa said when he let the moment stretch long enough to break. 'I've suddenly come over all hungry again.'

He hesitated. But, 'Okay,' he said.

He held out an arm for her. She took it. They walked back to the party in silence, the heat of Tessa's hand burning in the crook of his elbow.

'Be right back,' Tessa said. 'Going to go sweet talk the caterers into giving me fourths.'

As soon as she was gone, a much thinner form appeared at Ben's side.

'Well?' Maria whispered, clutching so hard to her wine glass it looked as though the stem might break. 'Did it happen?'

'Did what happen?'

Maria studied his face, perhaps trying to gauge whether or not he was joking.

'You are so useless!' she cried, raising the interest of a few nearby solicitors. 'How much more time do you need? How much more time do you think you have? Do you have the faintest idea-?'

Ben took a formidable sip of his now-warm prosecco. Maria sighed.

'I can't deal with Downward Spiral Ben again,' she said.

'Neither can I,' Ben said.

'Just stick your fucking tongue down her fucking throat already.'

Ben said nothing. Maria threw her hands up in frustration and stalked back to a waiting Christine, who was standing a bit away, plucking self-consciously at her clingy twin set.

'You two all right?' Tessa said when she reappeared with a full serving tray, picking off canapes with delicately-tipped nails.

Ben tried to stymie his growing flush. 'Fine,' he said. He watched as she popped caviar-topped crispbread between her lips.

'So this-' Ben nodded toward the tray in Tessa's arm. 'The Rubens. Does that mean the diet's over?'

Now it was Tessa's turn to blush. It was an odd sort of expression. She didn't look embarrassed, or shamed, or at all erotically piqued by the implication of those words. Instead, she looked vaguely unhappy before taking a bite of smoked salmon sandwich.

'Sorry,' Ben said.

'No, it's fine,' Tessa answered. 'It's just…I don't even know what I want anymore.'

'Your Mum's dress…'

She sighed. 'Guy got his wish, I suppose.'

Ben frowned and picked a sandwich off the tray, congratulating himself for not hurling it across the room in anger.

'It's not right, though,' she said, hurriedly now, as though if it didn't come out now, it wouldn't come out at all. 'I'm not getting fat for him. I don't want to get fat for him. I want to gain weight for myself, because I like how it looks and feels. And I want to get fat for-' She stopped and finished the corner of her sandwich, then took another. She didn't finish that thought.

'He's done so much for me,' she said quietly instead. 'Everything with my mum, and us moving down here, and letting me get this job. It's only right that I'm giving things up for him now.'

'Sorry?' Ben said.

She didn't answer him. 'He's more in love with me than ever,' she carried on. 'We're closer than ever. We're moving soon, did I tell you that? To a three bedroom, near a good school. For the kids.' She let out a little sob. 'If I don't get too fat to have them first.'

Ben didn't know what to say. He couldn't even process the heavy barrage of information she'd just laid out in front of him like a concrete wall. Love, kids, fat. Three things he wanted. Three things Tessa would have with someone else.

'Ben,' Tessa said, voice choked, still tearful. 'I need to tell you something.'

The clinking of a glass echoed through the room, and everyone stopped, turned. Everton was bellowing something, standing up on a bench, a glass in his hand. Ready to make his speeches.

Ben swore at the distraction, and turned back toward Tessa, her name on his lips.

But she wasn't there. The cardigan, handbag, space for her were gone. The happy buzz in his head was gone.

Tessa was gone.

The only thing left of her was the tray, sat completely empty on a table nearby, and the last waning warmth of her hand.

09-24-2017, 09:24 PM
Yes! Nooo!!!

10-01-2017, 11:31 AM
Enjoyed it so far! Wonder how it continues...

10-10-2017, 04:26 PM
Lurkymcduck, I just want to let you know that I check back every day for updates. This is a great story. Hope to see more soon!

10-24-2017, 04:09 AM
Hey, sorry for the delay. Been writing but haven't had the chance to post. Few chapters coming up (not really the most cheerful stuff, but hang in there):


Ben spent the weekend in a haze of confusion and indecision, alternately picking up and putting down his mobile, picking up and putting down the television remote, leaving the flat, then turning right back inside to collapse back onto his bed.

He should ring her.

Shouldn't he?

I'll see her Monday, he told himself. It was the only thing that kept him calm, that end point to the two days that were stretching infinitely and painfully long. Then, I'll see her tomorrow. Sunday night: [I]Twelve hours. Only twelve hours. Then I'll tell her.

He took extra care with his suit on Monday morning, and nearly burned himself ironing out the creases in his shirt. The collar was bleached and stiff with starch, and he didn't need his wig, but that, too, had its stray hairs tidied and bald patch combed over at the side.

Finally, he buttoned his jacket, threw his bag over his shoulder, and stepped out the door.

The world was egging him on. Optimistic marketing messages hit him every few steps: from the adverts on the back of bus stops, to signs in shop windows, to the graffiti sprawled on the platform at the Underground station: Be You, You Can Do It, Be Amazing, something indecipherable that to him looked like Get In, Bruh.

He whistled. He earned strange, begrudging looks from other passengers on the Tube. An elderly woman with green hair stared at him until he stopped.

The steps to ground level, then to the main floor of chambers, were numerous and high. His heart was humming as he burst through the door, his hands sweating, clenched at his sides.

'Hi,' Ben said.

To no one.

The office was empty. Chairs sat vacant at their desks, the printer was cold and dark; the strip lights were still a fire-safe half-glow. It was a typical scene at 8:45 on a Monday morning.

But it wasn't typical for Tessa.

'Hello?' Ben called.

His bag sagged to the floor. He tugged off his jacket, hot and sweating, and threw it on top of his bag. 'Tess?'

She wasn't in; that much was clear. Ben sighed, sucked on his teeth, and went to his office to toss his things on his desk. Then he rolled up his sleeves and went back to reception, where he threw himself into her sacked chair and leaned back, staring at the ceiling.

The wheels squeaked beneath him as the chair swivelled back and forth, back and forth. The strip light hummed and blinked. He blinked; little dots appeared on an already-mottled ceiling.

The phone rang. Ben let it ring out.


Ben turned, the chair squealing.

It wasn't Tessa. It was Maria. Jacket hanging from her hand, expensive boots hugging her tight to her knees, the same milky tea colour as her skin. She unwound the scarf from her neck and tossed it on the desk, then said:

'You know.'

Ben looked up from the coil of her scarf to the guarded expression on her face, the shadowed eyes.

'Know what?' he said.

Maria flung her jacket on top of her scarf, and Ben suddenly realised there had been nothing on the surface to knock off. The scarred wood was perfectly clear, clean, freshly polished. All traces of icing sugar and syrup and melted chocolate gone.

'Fuck,' Maria said.

'What's happened?' Ben asked. His heart was no longer humming, but hammering. It wanted to burst through his chest like that poor bloke in Alien. He wiped his hands on his perfectly pleated trousers.

'She's quit,' Maria said. 'She quit weeks ago. Friday was her last day.'

Ben didn't say anything. He only watched Maria's scarf uncoil itself and slip to the floor.

'She asked me not to tell. I thought she--'

The scarf was deep red, the colour of blood.

'She didn't,' Ben said.

'She said she would.'

Ben thought of Friday night at the gallery, what she'd said before vanishing, like she'd been caught out too long. Those odd things she'd said before that point, about Ben saving the best for last. About Guy getting his wish. He'd thought it slightly titillating at the time, the thought that Tessa was going to let herself go, even if it was going to be for her nob of a fiancé. Now, though, thinking back on what Maria had said before…

'She wanted to be a barrister,' Ben said, looking back up at Maria, who was frowning down at him with a rare shadow of sympathy in her eyes.

'Well, now she'll be a fat blob who never leaves the house and fulfils none of her lifelong dreams, married to a controlling arse because the man who really loved her no matter what couldn't grow the balls and tell her she had another option.' All sympathy was gone. New anger flushed her face, pinking her cheeks. 'Congratulations, you massive bellend. You've lost her now. For good.'

Ben stared at her. Maria stared back, a stiff set to her jaw.

'She had to do it on her own,' Ben said, slowly, just as stiffly. 'She had to figure it out herself.'

'Well, she didn't, did she.'

Maria yanked her scarf from the floor and it floated in the air for a moment, its wisps of silk like blood in water.

'What now?' Ben asked. His voice was cracked, his innards shrivelled and dry.

'Go back to work, Ben,' Maria said.

In another rare streak of sympathy, she left him with the faint, cool impression of a hand on his shoulder and a whiff of Christine's vanilla perfume.

Ben stared at Tessa's empty desk and pressed himself back into the wide hollow of her empty chair.

It was over. He had lost.

And so had Tessa.

10-24-2017, 04:29 AM
Even the adverts were taking the piss.

'The colour for the season? It's grey,' the women on the television said as Ben flipped between channels. Adverts for carpets and blinds in cool dove tones flooded muted window displays, and the wall at the Underground station was scrubbed and painted over in its standard concrete shade--even the graffiti artists that took to it after seemed to have bought out the grey scale section of the local B&Q.

Summer was cold and wet and not a summer at all. London was a sea of black jackets and black trousers and pewter piercings. The Ancient Ones had both come down with something hacking and wet and taken on a pallor the colour of dust. Christine was stopping by more and more often, and even she had done something ridiculous and dyed her hair a dull silver. Maria, who had a penchant and a trust fund for the latest fashions, spent so much time in black that Ben wouldn't have been surprised if she picked up a hood and scythe on her next shopping spree.

Ben bought the cat a flash new bowtie, bright red with golden bells. It lasted three minutes before Bill killed it and vomited up red threads onto his pillowcase.

'You need out of that hellhole,' his sister-in-law Shawna said on the phone, sounding just a bit desperate herself. Ben could hear the wail of his newest niece in the background and his nephew chanting 'mum' with increasing urgency. 'Come back to Swansea. Just for a while. When's the last time you had a holiday? Christmas?'

Ben couldn't remember. Ben didn't particularly want a holiday. He was doing perfectly fine at work. The new clerk was the old-fashioned old-chap sort that knew how to entertain solicitors with ribald stories that would turn Ben's stomach, but was professional enough and made sure that cases found their way onto Ben's desk. It wasn't the amount of work he was used to getting from Tessa, but it was enough. He wasn't sure he could deal with more at the moment anyway.

'Maybe not for a while,' Shawna said. 'Maybe forever. We have barristers in Swansea, you know. Or go for something less high stress. Retrain for property sales or whatever. Your flat's probably worth a fortune. You've paid it off, haven't you? You could sell it and buy somewhere nice on the Gower, then sell bloody ice creams for all we care. That city isn't good for you.'

Ben entertained the brief image of doing exactly that--manning a Cornetto trolley on the beach like he had when he was a boy, shaded by an umbrella, passing slow moments by watching families amble past, sometimes, when it was warm enough, the odd, dry-mouth-inducing fat woman in a clingy bikini. Sometimes he'd scribble a quick sketch in the back of the unused receipts book, trying to capture the curves of a body, the bulges, the swells. He was never good at faces, though. They'd always looked plastic, indistinct. Back then, he had trouble reconciling the soul of a person, what was in the eyes, with the rest of the body. It was lust. Nothing more.

It hadn't been lust with Tessa. Not just. He would never draw her, either. Never see if he'd beaten what eluded him, if he could duplicate the rush of affection in her dark eyes.

Finally, in August, he gave in. He bought his train ticket, drugged his cat, stuffed him a pet carrier, and set off on a two week holiday to South Wales, to promised sunshine and an attic room away from the nursery. He'd be back on the 19th of August, late afternoon, when in some city church he'd forgotten the name of, Tessa would be married and out of his life for good.

'Benny boy,' his brother Roger said at the train station, hugging him with ham-sized arms as Bill mewled plaintively in his cat carrier. 'You look like shit.'

'I know,' Ben said.

'Welcome home,' his brother said with a clap on the shoulder. 'Shawna's made roast.'

'I'm not hungry.'

'Sorry, what was that, shit face?'

'I'm starving.'

'That's more like it.'


The house was chaos, though a cheerful sort that gently jack-hammered away at the heavy grey concrete weighing down Ben's heart. His nephews treated him to sloppy blackcurrant kisses and his sister-in-law piled roast potatoes onto his plate until he'd pop. Upstairs, Bill slept off the rest of the sedatives in Ben's attic room. Downstairs, his brother fed the kids while Shawna leaned across the table, new-mother-boobs spilling out of her top, and asked him, 'So is it a girl, then?'

'Is Uncle Ben getting married?' his niece asked, cutting a tube of macaroni in half with her plastic fork.

'No,' Ben said. 'Never.'

Her reply was tearful. 'Why not?'

'For fuck's sake,' Ben said under his breath.

'You shouldn't swear,' his (ever-pious) nephew said.

'Finish your dinner,' Roger snapped, looking from daughter to son to wife. 'And mind your own bloody business. All of you.'

Of course Rog was just as big of a gossip as his wife and children, though he was much better at hiding it. He corralled Ben into the office with a bottle of whiskey after dinner, and they sat there with a pack of cards as Roger dealt a game that he knew very well that Ben would lose.

'Go on then,' Rog said. 'What's her name?'

'Tessa,' Ben mumbled.

'Tessa,' Roger said. He took a deep breath and laid down his cards. Ben had won the first hand.

He pushed his coins across to Ben. 'That's the last time we're going to hear that name in this house.'

'Sorry?' Ben said.

'Don't "sorry?" me with your posh twatery, Ben. I know what you're like. You want to talk about things. And obsess over them. And pick every bloody fucking thing apart until you can't move from your bed. What was the last one's name?'

'That was in school.'

'Over twenty years ago.' Roger threw out his hands to the cramped surrounding, the His and Hers matching desks scattered with blueprints and receipts. 'And yet here you are again.'

He was right. Here he was again. Always at conflict within himself, never coming to terms with what he was, what he liked, who he liked. Always embarrassed or insecure or unsure, always a wimp, always too scared to do something unless it literally fell into his lap. Tessa would have winded him if she'd tried, and he'd still have waited on her to take his face between her hands and kiss him. Where had the man gone that had sat Tessa across from him and told her to take more? Where had that exhilarating rush of power disappeared to?

Gone, probably, as soon as he set eyes on Guy, and had the faintest clue of what went on at home when Ben wasn't there to see.

'Just deal the next hand, please,' Ben grumbled.

Roger took his cards and slid them aside. 'You know what they say.' Roger twisted his lips into a little smile, the bald pate of his head gleaming in the office light. 'Best way to get over a woman?'

'No, Rog,' Ben said.

'Serious, mate. It's happening.'


'Just Shawna's ex-colleague. Biggest tits I've ever seen, this one. Arse to match. Think you'd like her.'

'Rog, shut the fuck up.'


To be fair, she did have quite sizeable breasts, and not a bad backside, either. Leighann was even pleasant enough to talk to, and while she bored easily of his bloodiest work anecdotes (not something Ben was used to) they shared a former school and a few former teachers, and happily exchanged stories of mutual acquaintances in an evening in which Ben only thought of Tessa twice.

The first time was when she pushed her burger and chips away half-finished and said, 'Eyes bigger than my stomach, I have.'

In which Ben could perfectly picture Tessa in her place, pulling that plate closer with a raised eyebrow, daring him tell her she wasn't done.

The second time was in Ben's car outside her flat, when Leighann went in for the kiss and slid his hand directly onto her belly.

'Rog told me you liked this sort of thing,' she whispered, gripping his fingers, which in turn gripped the slight roll of tum. 'I looked it up. Read what you might like. You do like it, don't you?'

'I, uh.' Ben squeezed. His fingers felt raw and cracking at the knuckles.

"My ex-husband was always on me to lose weight. I thought it was kind of odd at first, the whole chubby-chaser thing, but has to be better than him, yeah?' She patted his hand. 'Would you like to come in for a drink before you go home?'


Tessa. Tessa Tessa Tessa. Something about the mention of the ex-husband was what did it. The sudden unbidden image that flung itself into his head: Tessa in a too-small dressing gown, satiated by pizza...three pizzas. Tessa, red-faced and angry and tearful, trying to get her wants across to a man who refused to listen to her past the haze of his own lust. Ben wasn't that guy.

'I had a nice evening,' Ben said, unhanding her belly and shifting back to the driver's side. 'I'm just not…ready.'

'Bad break up?'

'Something like that,' Ben replied, face reddening.

She gave him a sympathetic smile, then kissed him on the cheek.

'Night, Ben,' she said.

'Night, Leighann,' he replied, and he didn't miss her when she shut the car door with a slam.


The beach was full of thin university students playing Frisbee in bikinis. The bars were full of well-dressed men and mini-dressed women with long legs and no interest either in or to Ben. His brother's house continued in its ordered chaos; Bill continued his life of countryside luxury in the attic and the overgrown garden; Ben cuddled his nieces and nephews, drew haphazard still lifes of fruit and portraits of sleeping babies, and wished he had this life with Tessa.

He texted her. Once. Just a slip when he'd had too much wine with Shawna. A simple Hope you're okay. He didn't hear back. He didn't need to. It wouldn't have helped.

She was still so clear in his head. Her eyes still so exactly drawn on his memory, dark and vivid. At the beginning, when she slipped by his office, little belly wobbling beneath the tight waistband of her shirt. The not-yet-plump fingers held up in a just-a-minute pose. When she sat across from him at his desk with a bag of donuts in her lap, unwrapping them like a gift as her breasts and belly pushed out against the ever-tighter buttons of her blouse.

It was a gift she'd given him, really. Her friendship. Even if just for a while. He had to be happy with it.

He didn't have a choice.

Her wedding day came. Ben hugged his nieces and nephews and his brother drove him to the train station, and Roger patted him too hard on the shoulder and told him to ring when he got home so they knew he was okay. They'd keep his room for him, just in case he changed his mind.

Ben was starting to think Roger and Shawna were right. London was dull but it had been home. Now, after weeks in Wales, it seemed both sullen and foreign, the roadworks turning the walk from the train to the flat into an unfamiliar maze. It was cool and drizzly. It seemed a dismal day for a wedding.

It was nearly dark by the time he pushed in to his flat. She'll be married by now, Ben thought, turning on the lights to the familiarly sparse lounge. Sitting at the head table too fat for her mother's dress, while her twatgibbon of a husband tries to hand-feed her an entire cake in front of her guests. I should have RSVP'd at least. Let her know I wouldn't be there. I should have been there to ask her to rethink. Preferably beforehand. Before she got married. A long time before.

Bill scratched at the carrier, wanting out. Ben sat him on the kitchen floor and eased open the door.

'There you go, buddy,' he said.

Bill stepped out hesitantly, then waddled off down the corridor.

The doorbell rang. The neighbour, probably, who was always paid strict attention to Ben's comings and goings so she knew when to complain that his telly was on too loud.

Ben sighed, stood upright, stretched his aching back. Walked the few steps to the door and tugged it open.

Only to find Tessa on the other side: silent, pink-faced, and looking very much like she would like to come in.

10-24-2017, 06:00 AM
*gibbers for a few moments while trying to put thoughts into words*

*deep breath*

So .... you have nothing to apologize for. That was very, very, nicely handled, great shifting around to have different views of the mood. And that ending, oh man, I was wondering how you were going to transition into what is next, and that was just delicious.

Although I'm somewhat agreeing with Maria lately ... :p

10-24-2017, 12:07 PM
*gibbers for a few moments while trying to put thoughts into words*

*deep breath*

So .... you have nothing to apologize for. That was very, very, nicely handled, great shifting around to have different views of the mood. And that ending, oh man, I was wondering how you were going to transition into what is next, and that was just delicious.

Although I'm somewhat agreeing with Maria lately ... :p

Thanks, Tad. Glad someone's still reading!

10-24-2017, 12:20 PM
One more chapter after this. Hang in there.

Ben gaped at her for a full ten seconds before wordlessly standing back from the door and gesturing inside. He still didn't say anything as she dropped her carrier bags, shucked off her coat and sat on his sofa, her hands folded in her lap. Still nothing as he went to the kitchen to put on the kettle, then came back with two cups of tea - milk for his, two sugars for her.

She took it with a smile of thanks, though it faded rapidly.

Ben dragged a chair from the kitchen table to sit across from her. He sat down so fast he nearly scalded himself with his tea.

'I…' He stopped and licked his dry lips, his dry mouth. 'I thought you'd be leaving for your honeymoon.'

She frowned and slid her tea onto the coffee table, then reached into one of the carrier bags and brought out a bag of familiar jam-filled donuts, then set them next to her tea, flicking the sticker open with a finger.

'Do I look married?'

She reached into the bag and brought out the first donut with carefully spaced fingers, the tip of each nail pristine with a fresh French manicure.

And Ben realised--there was no ring on her finger, wedding or engagement. There was only a pinched-in circle where one had once sat, slightly paler than the rest of her hand.

Did they have to cut it off?

In those weak moments Ben had thought of Tessa, particularly Tessa as she might have been, all but a shut-in in her own home, he'd imagined her huge, massive, pinned by her own weight to the floor. It had stopped being erotic at this point, especially because even in his head Guy was still lurking in the background, rubbing his hands and laughing maniacally. Not to mention that it would have made Tessa absolutely miserable.

So no, she wasn't that big. But was she bigger?

He wasn't sure. He hadn't expected this. Her: here, in his flat, the night of her wedding. Plump and rolling and like a dream, just as stunning as ever. He also hadn't expected her to be this…well…thin. Not that she was. Certainly not. But had she gained a pound since she quit her job and submitted to her fiance's desires? It didn't look like it. On the contrary, it looked like she had lost weight. Not a lot. Just a little. A few rebellious pounds lost for...what? To show Guy that he couldn't control her? To prove something? To show that she could?

The sight of it - the sight of her - filled Ben with simultaneous feelings of triumph and disappointment.

She finished her donut in three neat bites, then reached into the bag for another.

She's not married, Ben thought, the fact not quite sinking in. He still didn't understand.

'So?' Ben asked.

She slid her empty left hand to her deflated belly as she licked sugar from the corner of her lips.

'What happened?' she asked. She smiled, just a ghost of one. 'I didn't get married.'

'Why?' Ben asked. His throat was dry. He tried to clear it but it only made it worse. He took a sip of his tea, which tasted suddenly bitter.

'Do you want one reason?' she asked, dark eyes set directly on him, not blinking. 'Or all of them?'

Ben scooted forward in his chair. He took another sip of tea.

'Let's start with one,' he said.

He couldn’t take his eyes from her lovely face: her clever eyes, her lips, her sweet, soft chin, the sugar once more on her lips as she finished off her second donut like it was nothing, like she was starving. Ben braved a look into her gaping carrier bag and spotted several more packs of cakes, biscuits, various bakery goods and fried treats.

He sat up a bit straighter, a bit stiffer…confused, wonderfully confused.

'We wanted different things,' Tessa said.

'A career,' Ben said.

'Or immobility,' Tessa responded with a nod. 'In fantasy? Sure. In real life? No, thank you.'

Ben nodded his agreement.

'Second,' Tessa said, counting off Guy's transgressions on sugar-dusted fingers. 'I didn't want to feel like I'd owe him for the rest of my life. He was sweet when my mother died. He's not a hero.'

Ben nodded again, trying not to agree too fervently unless she took that for a sign that he thought she was an idiot for sticking with Guy for so long. Besides, he was getting a bit light headed, and still couldn't quite believe she was hear, with him, on his sofa, on her wedding day. With him.

She was proverbially falling into his lap, surely. His decision was made for him. It took heartache and despair, but here she was. And he hadn't had to do anything.

Suck on that, Maria.

'And before the last thing,' Tessa said, grimacing in a way that made the light headedness evaporate and Ben's stomach drop. 'I need to tell you something.'

Ben wiped his hand on his trousers. 'Yeah?'

'I'm leaving,' she said.

Ben blinked. 'Oh,' he said. 'But you already-'

'I'm leaving London,' she said. She sat on her hands, though her eyes momentarily found the four remaining donuts. 'I'm going back to Durham. They're letting me finish my course.'

'Tess…' Ben struggled for words. 'That's…that's amazing.'

'That's not what Guy said.'

'Fuck Guy.'

Tessa allowed him a little sideways smile, then took another donut.

'You really think so?' she said. 'You don't think I'm an idiot for trying again, after everything?'

'I was hoping you would,' Ben said. He meant it, he really did. He was aching, his brain simultaneously trying to measure the distance between Durham and London in miles, hours, and train fare, but he didn't care. Truly. The smile said it all.

'Tess,' Ben said. 'I'm so proud of you.'

She blushed and finished off her third donut, then pulled a box of Jaffa cakes from her bag.

She slid it onto the table by her mug, then looked up at Ben, sliding her fingers back beneath her plump thighs.

'Ben,' she said. 'That last thing…the reason I didn't marry him.'

Ben's heart was beating in his ears. His tongue was sticking to the roof of his mouth. Somewhere in the depths of the flat, Bill was coughing up a hairball onto a rug. He didn't care. It was happening. Something so much better than those secret hours, than the eroticism of their feedings. Connection. Potential. What he'd always, always wanted.

'I love you,' he said at last, and it was like every grey concrete bit of him had broken apart. He'd wanted to say it before she did, and he had. For the first time in his life, he'd pulled up his trousers and did what he was always too afraid to do. Said it forthright: 'I love you, Tessa.'

Tessa, for her part, only blushed harder, and busied herself with the flap of the box.

'I love you, too,' she said quietly to her tea. Only then did she look up at him and say it again, so he could hear her properly: 'I love you, too.'

Ben was grinning like an idiot. And suddenly Tessa was, too. And there was a coffee table between them, and two mugs of cooling tea.

Neither of them made a move. Maybe they didn't have to. Maybe there didn't need to be a heated embrace - not now, not with everything that had happened, not with Tessa's separation from her fiancé so fresh. Ben sat where he was, quite sure that, for once, his inaction was not cowardice, but the right thing to do.

'It's a long way, Durham,' Tessa said. 'I'm not going to be back often.'

'I know,' Ben said.

'And I've heard from someone that you used up your holiday for the year.'

Maria, Ben thought, with a sudden rush of affection for his friend. He suddenly wondered whether she'd played therapist to both of them, and whether or not they'd both be here right now without her, however delayed it was.

'It might be a while before we see each other, when I leave,' Tessa added.

'We'll have to make the most of it now, then,' Ben said.

She bent forward, belly bunching, breasts swelling, pink face the happiest Ben had ever seen it, and pulled open the wrapping around the tube of Jaffa cakes.

Then she turned to the bag and brought out fairy cakes, eclairs, Swiss roll and chocolates; ginger cake, roulade, Dairy Milk and midget gems. Finally, a bag of Doritos, and a two litre of full fat Coke. They sat on the table like a banquet, and Tessa sat there plump with potential, vibrant with energy, and finally, in her own way, his.

'I'm starving,' she said, sitting back on the sofa, folding her hands neatly in her bulging lap.

Ben slid so far forward he almost fell from his chair. He picked up the tube of Jaffa cakes, the cellophane feeling almost unreal in his hand.

He unstuck his tongue and bolstered his courage:

'May I feed you?' he said.

She grinned, chin doubling. 'I thought you'd never ask.'

Buck Lee
10-24-2017, 02:08 PM
This is not only one of the best things I've read on this forum, it's one of the best things I've read, ever. Seriously. Thank you for sharing it with us. I would love it to continue even though it has clearly reached a natural end point!

10-24-2017, 06:02 PM
This is not only one of the best things I've read on this forum, it's one of the best things I've read, ever. Seriously. Thank you for sharing it with us. I would love it to continue even though it has clearly reached a natural end point!

High praise indeed. Thanks very much.

There will be an epilogue... Just need to write it. Might be a few weeks, but hopefully sooner.

Greg The Vet
10-25-2017, 11:58 AM
That was amazing. Well balanced, well paced. Cute but not cutesy. Sexy but not trashy. So well written. Thank you!

10-29-2017, 01:01 AM
Reallllly love this story and your writing style!

10-29-2017, 11:41 AM
This is an absolutely well written story, every chapter pulls you right in. Please keep up this amazing masterpiece

Greg The Vet
11-04-2017, 12:13 AM
Just read the whole thing again, cover to cover. Brilliant.

12-09-2017, 11:43 AM
So you won't continue the story...?

12-10-2017, 12:53 PM
There is purported to be an epilogue, but the story is more about the romance than the weight gain. Now that they are together, beyond an epilogue there isn't many more places for it to go.

Give it time, RL happens, and perhaps after the holidays are overwith.....?

12-11-2017, 11:42 AM
I'm looking forward to the epilogue, but I also want to take a minute to thank the writer for an awesome, complete story, with lots of depth and very interesting and believable characters. Nice work and thank you! Hope to see your creativity in the future!

12-22-2017, 07:23 PM
This was joyous and beautiful. I loved, as well, your way of characterising Guy; he isn't a villain archetype who generally appears in FA texts, and I was deeply into the contrast between Ben's and Guy's different ways of seeing Tessa and wants for her.

03-03-2018, 12:07 PM
Sorry for the massive wait. I thought the last chapter made for a nice ending, but we could so with a little more. Hope you enjoy it.

Mini glossary for the non-Brits: CPS=Crown Prosecution Service, Cheryl Cole: Near incomprehensible singer from girl band Girl's Aloud, now a tabloid darling


1st October

Tessa is typing something…

Tessa: I'm starving.
Tessa: And I miss you.
Tessa: And your five am pizza deliveries.
Tessa: I still don't know how you find pizza at five am. Can't in Durham.
Ben: A gut like me just knows
Ben: guy
Ben: Is your heating working yet?
Tessa: Predictive text knows all your inner thoughts and desires.
Tessa: I think the last tenant jammed a trolley token in the coin slot.
Tessa: I am living in a Dickens novel.
Ben: Bleak house?
Tessa: And Oliver Twist. I am actually having porridge for breakfast. It's only been days and I'm wasting away.

Ben is typing something…

Tessa: Ben has stopped typing something because he knows he'd sound like a horny perv?
Ben: Maybe
Tessa: :)

Tessa: How's Bill?
Ben: <Photo attached>
Ben: Misses you
Ben: I miss you
Ben: Do you want me to send a Tesco delivery?
Tessa: I don't have time to cook anything even if I had the money for food. Starting work at the restaurant tomorrow night. At least I'll get one meal a day.
Ben: Take care of yourself
Tessa: Stay fat, you mean.
Ben: That, too
Tessa: I'll try.
Ben: I know. You don't have to. I just want you to be happy
Tessa: I know.
Tessa: <photo attached>
Tessa: I'll do my best.
Ben: You always do
Ben: Ah, that…that is a nice photo
Tessa: ;)
Tessa: Right. Off to go do lawyery important things now.
Ben: Ah. Yeah. I'm late for work
Tessa: You sure you can function without me?
Ben: I've survived this long
Ben: But definitely function better with you

Tessa is typing something…

Tessa: Ditto.
Tessa: I love you.
Ben: I love you
Ben is offline.

17th October
Tessa: I know you're at court.
Tessa: Just wanted to remind you that your girlfriend is amazing.
Tessa: And is applying for CPS pupilage in Swansea.
Tessa: Just remember that when you next see her and she's lost five stone from stress.
Tessa: *jazz hands* Swansea!

19th November
Tessa: Something just came in the post.
Tessa: You are amazing.
Tessa: No one's ever drawn me before.
Tessa: I thought you said you were bad at faces?
Tessa: I'm gonna get it framed.

5th December
Ben: <Photo attached>
Ben: I made the curry. It is…not awful. I don't think it needed that much ghee
Ben: Oh, and I have the meeting at Jones and Jones next week
Ben: Don't suppose you fancy a mini break?

Ben is offline.
Tessa: Can't. Too much work. I want to. Can't.
Tessa: God. You sure we can do another year of the distance thing?

2nd January
Tessa: 3 pls
Ben: ?
Tessa: Oops
Tessa: Wrong chat.
Ben: 3 what?
Ben: 3 cases
Ben: 3 penises
Ben: 3 pizzas?

5th February
Tessa: My bloody camera is broken on my phone.
Ben: That's why I haven’ t seen you in a while?
Ben: We can use our voices like normal people
Tessa: You think you can wank solely to the dulcet tones of a Geordie accent?
Ben: Sure
Ben: I can pretend you're Cheryl Cole
Tessa: It's Cheryl Tweedy.
Tessa: And fuck off.
Tessa: I'm not that skinny.
Tessa: Yet.

19th March
Ben: Hey
Tessa: Hey.
Ben: You alright?
Tessa: Sorry I rejected your call.
Tessa: I've had a bad day.
Ben: What happened??
Tessa: You remember I told you about Jack?
Ben: Giant selfish wankstain Jack?
Tessa: That's the one.
Ben: What did he do?
Tessa: Went off on one.
Tessa: In front of everyone.
Tessa: Because I got into assessments and he didn't.
Ben: Do you want me to come up?
Tessa: No, you have your thing.
Tessa: And your flat viewings.
Tessa: Don't worry.
Tessa: I'm going to destroy him.
Ben: That's my girl

5th April
Tessa: Did I tell you the restaurant's gone American style? I can actually watch our customers get fatter. It's amazing. Almost makes me want to give up law and waitress full time. And pancakes for every meal? Yes pls.

9th April
Ben: Did it. Resignation letter handed in.
Tessa: Well done, you. xx
Ben: Maria's never going to talk to me again
Tessa: Sure she will, as soon as she figures out you'll have three spare bedrooms and your house is five minutes from the beach.
Ben: Christine's getting really fat, you know
Tessa: I know.
Tessa: You told me.
Tessa: Several times.

13th June
Ben: <photo attached>
Ben: This is weird
Tessa: I'm so proud of you. It takes a lot of bravery to know when it's time to go.
Tessa: Bill is OK?
Ben: Drugged and in the cat carrier

Ben is typing…

Ben: Movers are here
Tessa: Ring me when you get there.
Ben: Will do
Ben: Next stop…the Gower

21st May
Ben: <photo attached>
Tessa: Can't remember the last time I saw sun.
Tessa: Save me a Cornetto?
Tessa: Or five.
Ben: I'll start packing the freezer.

7th July
Tessa: Thank you for offering train fare and for sending me the key.
Tessa: But you know I can't take your money, right?
Tessa: And besides…
Tessa: …
Tessa: (drum roll)
Tessa: (extended drum roll because you're still not answering your phone and I can't wait to tell you)
Tessa: I will be officially be joining the dark side
Tessa: In Swansea
Tessa: In November
Tessa: Jack HATES me
Tessa: AND I have KFC for dinner
Tessa: See you in November, my man. That's not too long now, is it?

12th July
Tessa: PLEASE spend less money on sending me pizza and use it to replace that ridic green carpet in the bathroom
Tessa: Okay, a little less money
Tessa: Make next with one with olives, pls
Tessa: A kid's gotta eat sometime

25th October
Tessa: Hey.
Tessa: Three days.
Tessa: Start warming up now.
Tessa: Because Tessa's coming home.


Three days.

The weather in South Wales was terrible; black clouds choked the sky and broken branches and sea grass littered the coast roads, making Ben almost fatally late for an appointment at court.

He was having a very difficult time caring.

He hummed as he swung his leather case over his shoulder, and pushed through the wind and the Crown Court doors. He hummed as the plea was entered, his client taken away in cuffs, and his seat taken by an incredibly dull colleague from his new chambers.

He hummed as he pushed out the door and into the chequered foyer, and ran directly into someone coming the other way.

'Hey,' the person said.


Ben blinked.

'Holy shit,' he said.

'Surprise,' Tessa said. She smiled. 'Can we go to lunch?'


For a year, and especially ever since Tessa lost the ability to take photos of herself with her phone, Ben had resigned himself that Tessa was wasting away, literally working herself to the bone and surviving on student rations of Pot Noodle and scrounging up bits of bread whilst on shift. She'd said as much, herself, lamenting that she'd had to spend money she didn't really have on new clothes, and that she found it interesting how her colleagues and tutors treated her differently with her weight loss.

'My treat,' Tessa said, Tessa said, tugging on his hand. She'd said this while his brain reeled, trying to understand why Tessa was here three days early, why she had lied, why…

Why she had gained an incredible amount of weight.

She was telling him, but it wasn't sinking in. 'No drink, no friends, only work and food,' she told him as they walked the slow, short distance from the courthouse to Phillip's Parade, taking up more than their fair share of the pavement. They had to dodge café tables, clogged gutters, people hurrying along with hoods drawn up over their heads. Tessa carried on, oblivious, pink-skinned with her blazer tucked over her arm like she was roasting. 'The restaurant paid peanuts but oh my God, free food? Totally worth it. All feeders, the lot of them, too. Think it kept them from gaining weight, watching me do it for them. Ah, here we are!'

They were outside a diner with a familiar name. It took Ben a moment to realise it was the same one as the American restaurant in Soho.

Tessa was still talking, filling the silence left vacant by Ben's inability to think of something meaningful to say.

'I still have that gift card you gave me,' she said. 'Couldn't bring myself to spend it on Guy. Are you up for it? I kind of want to see if I still fit in the booth.'

Oh God.

Ben nodded. Tessa smiled, nervous, and tucked a flyaway curl behind her ear. 'Okay,' she said, uncertain. Her round cheeks were pink with the wind, her dimples no longer a suggestion but a fact. She bit her lip, like she was about to say something, then thought different of it and turned to the door.

Ben followed her inside.

Okay, he thought, trying to pump the gas on his thought process, get it working again. Okay. His head was still somewhere in grey, dim London two years ago, fixated on that slim if slightly podgy young woman who had walked past his gaping office doorway, chocolate bar in one hand, phone in the other. The slight bulge of a tummy. The slight strain of seams around round hips. The slight pull of buttons around generous handfuls of perky breasts.

That woman was gone.

No, that wasn't fair. Tessa not only was that woman, but she was over double that woman.

And she had lied to him, but he couldn't find it in himself to care.

He did the opposite of care.

This…this was a gift.

Not just to him, no. Why wouldn't she have told him? Ben knew right away: because not only was it a surprise for him, but a gift to herself. An opportunity, perhaps for the first time in her life, to be where no one knew her, to revel in excess without either meaningful disapproval or encouragement, and do it because she wanted it.

And did she want it?

The evidence was right in front of him.

She was waddling. Her hips brushed each side of the opening of the double doors. Her slacks were too tight, pulling lines across her hips and wide, jiggling thighs. The fabric was thin, and he could hear it rub even over the whisper of wind and growl of traffic behind them. He kept close to her, his hand on what had once been a well-formed back. He could no longer feel her spine. Instead, his palm rested on the jut of a roll above her bum, vibrating and gyrating as she stepped into the warmth of the diner.

She had lied, and he did not give an iota of a fuck.

She apologised anyway as she sat down, pushing against the table of the booth to make room for her belly to settle beneath it--fitting, but only barely. The Swansea branch was roomier than Soho, breathing out into the extra space. Back in Soho, Ben thought, still silent, still trying not to suddenly come in his pants, she'd have struggled to fit through the narrow front door.

'Sorry for what?' Ben said. His brain was fuzzy. His cock was fuzzy. Thank God they'd been able to walk, because he wouldn't have trusted himself to drive. He was still standing, awkwardly, at the head of the table, like he was the one waiting to take their orders for drinks. Finally he slid in next to her, into the soft swell of her hip, her thigh. She tried to scoot further into the wall. She couldn't.

'I wanted it to be a surprise,' Tessa said. She took both of his hands in her plump fingers. A ring--the cheap ring Ben had bought her from a street stall a summer and a lifetime ago--pinched into a ring of fat around her little finger. The booth squealed as she turned toward him. The top roll of her belly jutted two inches across the lip of the table; the bottom roll pressed into his leg. 'I know it was sneaky. I just thought--God, tell me you like it.'

Ben concentrated on breathing. Sweat slicked his upper lip.

'What can I get for you?' the waitress said.

Oh God, Ben thought.

'A Coke float and a banana milkshake, please,' Tessa said sweetly. 'Ben?' Tessa asked him.

'Erm,' Ben said.

'A water,' Tessa said. 'Welsh cake for him, and the Belly Burster for me, please. That okay, babe?'

Ben nodded numbly.

The waitress smiled and left them.

'I-' Ben said, then stopped, forgetting what he was going to say. 'How-'

'I fully intend on eating this all as quickly as possible,' Tessa said primly, cool and business-like, 'then going back to your house and fucking your brains out. Is that agreeable?'

Ben nodded.

'Ben,' Tessa said.

His eyes had been straying, down to their joined hands, hers so small and soft and plump in his, to the squeezed belly they rested on, to the fat thighs that spread across the booth, to the breasts that strained at the buttons of a royal blue blouse, to her face. Her cheekbones, still there beneath the freshly added layer of fat. The dimples, The soft double chin.

The eyes were the same. Her eyes. His Tessa, still looking at him like he was the only person in the world who mattered.

'I am sorry,' Tessa said, her eyes narrow with uncertainty, with worry. 'Are you sure you're okay with this?' She flattened his hand over the bulge of her belly. He squeezed the thick roll, more than his hand could hold. 'With all of this? I know we want kids, and I could lose weight before trying, but I just thought--God, it's been amazing-' her voice dropped to a husky whisper, her eyes bright, excited '-and just thinking of seeing you again, and how you would look at me…God, just like this. You're sure, you're--'

'It doesn't matter,' Ben said. 'Whatever. You are incredible. Fuck. God, I--' He stopped, getting his thoughts in order. Then he made a decision, and before he could overthink it, backpedal, chicken out, said, 'Marry me.'

He'd said it too loud. There was a gasp behind them, and every table within ten feet went completely quiet.

A jukebox nearby played faint strains of Americana. The plump hostess stood behind the till, watching them, grinning. Everyone was staring, and Ben's face was on fire, and he couldn't release his hands from the fat swell of her side.

Tessa smiled at him. His heart raced, jumped. He felt like it might choke him.

Her eyes shone.

'My mum's dress…' she whispered. She paused. Ben felt like he might throw up, but he didn't care. She could ask him for a gym membership and he'd get it for her. Jog alongside her for miles and miles and miles.

'…can be made into a shawl.'

Ben nodded. Tessa laughed, then sniffed, stifling a happy sob. He slid his arm around, around her wide sides, between her belly and the booth.

He couldn't reach.

'Is that a yes?' he murmured, an inch away from her lips. She smelled like lavender. Her breath smelled like mint.

'Are you joking?' Tessa whispered. Her breath hitched. Her breasts bobbed. 'Yes.'

Ben dove in so hard they nearly butt heads. They kissed so long it left them panting, so long Ben thought they'd be arrested, so long Ben wondered if they'd ever make it home…so long he wondered if he'd even care. Finally, they pulled apart. Ben laughed, face burning, cock aching. Tessa, too, turned red, trying not to cry.

A woman at another table clapped. A booth of teenagers cheered. Behind them, a milkshake and a Coke float slid onto the table, sweating, and the waitress told them she'd bring out celebratory ice cream sundaes. On the house.

'It's three-twenty, by the way,' Tessa said, grabbing a hold of the banana milkshake and taking off a dollop of cream with her tongue. She slicked back a tear with a fat hand, smiling, then reached down beneath the table to undo the pinching button of her slacks. She took a sip. Her belly swelled to fill any remaining void with the muffled sound of a zip. 'Oh God, she said. 'This is better than in London. If it's all like this in Swansea, I won't stay three-twenty for long.'

She grinned at him. He grinned back, or tried, because he was concentrating on her eyes and not the rest of her, not those numbers, which were like mathsy pornography for his brain.

Instead he stared into the fine, dark eyes of his girlfriend, his fiancée, his fat, fat future wife.

Fuck, Ben thought, with the heady, half-drunk bliss of someone both so turned on and so happy he wasn't sure he'd ever have a coherent thought again. I love this town.

Benny Mon
03-03-2018, 08:02 PM
A very nice epilogue for a wonderful story - such sensitively sketched characters whose hopes and fears and victories and failures you handled quiet ethically(?)...responsibly(?). I don't know the right word there, but I thoroughly enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing it!

03-04-2018, 03:55 PM
One of the best stories on the site. You are a gifted writer.

03-05-2018, 09:42 AM
Yay! Thank you for that epilogue -- what a plaeasant surprise :)